Now that we’ve looked at our lazy, stubborn judge, let’s consider the widow. All we know is that she is relentless. Convinced of the merits of her case (again, a case about which we actually know nothing), she returns again and again to this judge on whom she is forced to depend. Maybe this time . . . maybe next.
We know this woman too, do we not? Our mothers and grandmothers who kept food on the table and a roof over our heads even when they seemed to have no resources. Those like Harriet Tubman who refused to remain safely free while others toiled in bondage. Those like the suffragettes who claimed women’s full citizenship and equality, including the right to vote. Those like Rosa Parks who have challenged unjust laws. Those like Stacey Abrams who continue the struggle still against voter suppression so that our democracy works for all citizens. The mothers of the disappeared and the incarcerated, and those killed by state-sanctioned police brutality too. And so many more—most of them nameless. They refuse simple comfort; they want to be heard; they want the particular injustice to be acknowledged and rectified: “Say Her Name!” Just so, “in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more” (Matt. 2:18).
We “need to pray always and not lose heart.” So that’s what we try to do. The question is this: For what and for whom do we summon the tenacity and resilience to cry continuously, to act strategically, to petition effectively both divine and earthly powers?
O Lord who comforts the disconsolate, we give thanks that you hear and respond to our cries. Send down justice, send down mercy, and repair our broken hearts. Amen.
At last Jeremiah is able to bring a message of restoration and hope. God promises a new covenant with the people, and they will internalize the law in their hearts so that they will keep it. The psalmist rejoices in such a reality. He meditates on God’s law all day and has been granted profound understanding. This allows him to walk faithfully in God’s paths. The reading from Second Timothy confirms the ongoing power of God’s law in scripture, which is given by God for our good. Timothy is charged always to be ready to preach it faithfully. Luke hits on a different theme: the importance of persistent prayer. In the parable a heartless judge finally yields to a persistent widow, so we should be similarly tenacious with our prayers to God.
Read Jeremiah 31:27-34. How have you broken your covenant with God? How has God responded?
Read Psalm 119:97-104. The Jewish laws of the Hebrew scriptures are part of our Christian heritage. How can you delight in the law?
Read 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5. How can you learn or teach from scriptures you do not normally read?
Read Luke 18:1-8. Through the familiar call to pray always, the author reminds us that we are called to pray for what God wants. What is at stake when you pray for justice and mercy?
Respond by posting a prayer.