DO WE STILL BELIEVE IN JUSTICE?
Luke tells a short parable that indicates that Jesus told it to explain to his disciples «about the need to pray continually and never lose heart». This topic is very dear to the Gospel writer since he repeats the same idea in various settings. As usual, the parable has been read almost always as an invitation to keep persevering in our prayer to God.
However if we take into account the content of this story and the conclusion Jesus makes, we see that the key to the parable is the thirst for justice. At least four times the expression «do justice» gets repeated. More than a model of prayer, the widow in the story is an admirable example of the struggle for justice in the midst of a corrupt society that abuses the very weak.
The first character in the parable is a judge «who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone». He is the exact incarnation of the corruption that the prophets have denounced over and over: the powerful don’t fear God’s justice and don’t respect the dignity or the rights of the poor. These aren’t isolated cases. The prophets denounce the corruption of the judicial system in Israel and the male chauvinist structures of that patriarchal society.
The second character is a widow who is helpless in the midst of an unjust society. On one hand, she’s been suffering the abuse of an «enemy» who is stronger than she is. On the other hand she is the victim of a judge who isn’t at all concerned about her or her suffering. This is how millions of women have lived in most countries throughout the ages.
At the end of the parable, Jesus isn’t talking about prayer. More than anything, he asks us to trust in God’s justice: «Will God not see justice done to his elect if they keep calling to him day and night?». These elect aren’t «the members of the Church» but the poor of every nation who cry out asking for justice. Of them is the reign of God.
Later on Jesus asks a question that is a complete challenge to his disciples: «When the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?». He isn’t thinking about faith as a holding onto doctrine, but faith that strengthens the action of a widow who is a model of indignation, active resistance and courage to demand justice of the corrupt.
Is this the faith and the prayer of Christians who live pretty complacent in our pampered societies? Surely J. B. Metz was right when he denounces that in our Christian spirituality there are too many songs and too few cries of indignation, too much complacency and too little yearning for a more human world, too much consolation and too little hunger for justice.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf