Sunday, October 20, 2013

10/20/2013 - 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
October 20, 2013 - St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church

In the Apostles creed we say we believe that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.  We accept that at some point we will face some sort of final judgment before God.

So, when Jesus tells the parable about a judge and a widow, it’s not surprising that we are tempted to compare the judge to God; and to compare the widow to us, thinking that the gospel message is to simply be persistent in prayer and not give up.

I’m not so sure. I don’t think so.  Because if this is the case, then the gospel message is that if you badger God long enough you will eventually wear God down and get what you want.

But that’s not right.  That’s not how God works.
So there must be something more going on here than that.

Our God will not be bribed.  The scriptures tell us time and again that our God is a God of justice.

But the judge is a bad man.  He is not a man of justice. 
He’s self-serving, arrogant, narrow minded, maybe even a thief who takes bribes from special interest groups.

He is not like God.  Actually, if we’re honest, he’s more like us.
So the judge should not be compared to God.

Which means we should not compare ourselves to the widow, thinking we are like her.  We are not like her.  She is formidable. 

She hungers and thirsts for justice.
She is like God who pleading with us to change.

So then the message of the parable is to stop being like the judge and start trying to act more like the widow.

Anyone who resists injustice, faces it, names it, denounces it until justice is achieved is acting as God acts.

The widow is as powerless as Jesus of the cross.  His death defeats the power of death.  In the just the same way, the widow defeats injustice.

She goes again and again to the judge, so much that he despises her.  He doesn’t want to help her.  She’s poor and insignificant, like Mary the mother God.

But she kept coming.  Once a day.  Twice a day. 
Three times a day.  For one week.  For two weeks. 
For three weeks.  Four weeks.

She filled the mind of the judge with the idea that justice should be done for her.  Against all odds she endures until justice is done and God is present.

So the parable is not about strategies to wear down a reluctant God.  It’s about justice. 

It’s about holding those self-serving politicians’ feet to the fire.
It’s about uncovering and exposing greed and corruption.
It’s about improving education.

It’s about breaking barriers that separate people.
It’s about standing up for the voiceless, the hidden,
the marginalized, the abused, the neglected.

It’s about protecting the rights of the unborn.
It’s about caring for the elderly and the dying.
This is the very message I think our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been trying to communicate to us.

That Jesus doesn’t want us to be persistently whining to get God to do what we want. 

It’s really the other way around.

God will not stop knocking on the door of our hearts until we submit ourselves to God’s will and seek to carry out God’s justice.

Our God is persistent.  Even if God has to keep coming to us saying, “Rending justice for me.” 

God will keep knocking once a day, twice a day, three times a day, for one week, two weeks, three weeks, an entire lifetime.

God will not rest until justice is done.

Pay attention then to what the dishonest judge says,
because we are too much like him.


  1. "Anyone who resists injustice, faces it, names it, denounces it until justice is achieved is acting as God acts." What an inspired call to action!

  2. It is incredibly comforting to realize that G-d cannot be outdone in persistence ... to know that G-d will consider to pursue justice, relationship, intimacy with me until I get over my stubbornness and finally relent to what G-d already knew was best for me. What grace ... what love ... what a blessing! Thank you, Fr. Rusty for the fabulous reminder. I so look forward to being able to ponder your homilies online.