Even at the risk of being rude
The 22nd Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 24 - Year C
“…because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”
We’ve all known somebody like this widow – a person who will not take no for an answer. If we find ourselves in a difference of opinion with such a man or woman we muse to ourselves that it won’t be a question of if she (or he) wins the battle but merely a question of when. Jesus exercises a sense of humour when he pits this widow against a corrupt judge and the scene ends with the judge on his front doorstep in slippers and housecoat rewriting his judgement there and then in the widow’s favour just to be rid of the woman.
A few commentators note that English Bibles usually soften the widow’s fearsomeness in saying that the judge worries about being “worn down” by the constant complaints of the widow. The Greek verb comes from the world of boxing and refers to a darkening of the face. The judge is worried about getting a black eye one of these days. Crooked judges are not immune to the persistence of nagging plaintiffs, says Jesus, so why would your heavenly father (who, after all, is not an unjust judge) be deaf to the constant and persistent prayer of his children? Now, you might pray for the wrong thing. You could pray for things which you may not or cannot and, ultimately, do not receive. God is not a soda machine which distributes the desired product when the button is pressed.
What you must abandon forever is the thought that once you ask politely on a single occasion you must, from then on, hold your piece at the risk of being rude. Before prayer is a concise request for a particular thing it is a conversation in space and over time and a relationship between you and your maker. Your words and your feelings are a key component to it. Prayer should make room for strong language. It allows for a heated comparison of the promises of God with the way things have actually turned out. It will beneficially contain elements of your anger, sorrow and outrage.
The unrighteous judge says to himself: Here she comes again in high dudgeon, with her papers and her affidavits and her high pitched voice. He looks forward to the encounter with dread and wishes it over.
Your heavenly father sees you coming as well. He knows what you want and he knows what you need. He anticipates the fruits your conversation will bear and does not, in fact, want rid of you.