In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us to pay attention to the words of the dishonest judge.
“While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me” (Luke 18:4b-5).
I wonder how many of us pay attention to the second part of the statement without letting the first part sink in. He freely admits that he does not fear God nor respect any human being. In other words, he does not keep the two greatest commandments; namely, to love God and to love his neighbor. He is a Jew in name only as he has abandoned the covenant.
When we place that fact against the widow’s plea, it becomes clear that the point at issue in this parable is the quest for justice; for justice is simply a matter of being in right relationship with God and with our neighbor. Justice demands that I acknowledge who God is and who I am – God the creator and master, I the creature and servant. Justice demands that I acknowledge the rights of all human beings and that I respect those rights.
It seems to me that the widow in this parable is actually God crying out for us to return to right relationship, for righteousness. The dishonest judge acquiesces to the widows demands because he fears he will be struck by her. I am sure that there are some who obey God’s commandments out of fear, just as this judge acts because of his fear. However, God is asking for us to return to our covenant relationship not out of fear but out of love.
God will not weary of calling us back. God will persist in crying out for justice. This is the message of which the Jubilee of Mercy has been attempting to remind us. God is persistent in the desire to forgive. God does not weary of forgiving those who seek mercy. God is a shepherd searching for a lost sheep, a woman looking of a lost coin, a father seeking a lost child. God continues to cry out for justice for the poor, for the widows and orphans, for the aliens living in our midst.
The Gospel ends with a question. When Jesus returns, what will he find – a people of faith?
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator