The parables are tricky bits of literature. They are usually open-ended. Today’s parable is no exception. Jesus concludes by asking a question.
When two children of Israel were at odds with one another, they brought their suit to a court for a decision, not unlike people do today. However, there was one difference in Jewish courts. There were three judges. Each of the parties in the suit could choose a judge to hear the case. The third judge, however, was appointed. In this particular story, the third judge was not worthy of the trust of the community. He admits himself. He fears neither God nor his neighbor.
The widow in this suit is looking for justice. However, she is at a distinct disadvantage because she is pleading her case before male judges in a patriarchal society. The cards are stacked against her. However, she makes herself heard, which is an anomaly in and of itself since the Hebrew word for widow means “the voiceless one.”
The judge capitulates. He is fearful that if he judges against the widow, he might come to some harm. The Greek words he uses are translated a little less strongly in English. He actually fears he will get a bruised or black eye, which even in our language is a metaphor for a damaged reputation.
However, there is still Jesus’ question. The answer to that question lies within ourselves. No one can answer for us. Are we the people of faith we claim to be?
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator