Reflection: Twenty-Nineth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Ex.17:8-13; Ps.120; 2nd Reading – 2Tm.3:14-4:2; Gospel – Lk.18:1-8]

“… WILL HE FIND FAITH…”

Today the theme of the gospel can be quite easily understood because the author himself tells us directly that it is about “the need to pray continually and never to lose heart”. If this is true for the widow, it seems that it was not so for the judge whom Jesus calls “unjust”.

Why does Jesus call him “unjust”? What is so unjust about him? This judge does not seem to be “unjust” at all since he gave this widow “her just rights”. Was he “unjust” because he refused to give her “her just rights” “for a long time”? It is true that he delayed in giving her “her just rights”, but eventually he gave them to her… It is also true that in the end he gave her “her just rights” simply because she persisted in going to him and he was afraid that she would worry him to death… but again, the judge gave her “her just rights”.

It seems that Jesus labelled this judge as “unjust” not because of his work but because of his attitude towards his work. We are told that this judge “had neither fear of God nor respect for man”. Therefore we are not talking about “legal injustice”, but rather a “spiritual injustice” or an “ethical injustice”. The judge was “unjust” because he put himself into a different position (relationship-wise) to that which he should have been as a judge. In other words he was doing something that he was not fit to do i.e. to be a judge! He was very aware of his own “misplacement” and he even boasted about it by saying “I have neither fear of God nor respect for man”. For the simple fact that he had no fear of God, he had already put himself into an awkward position. He does not believe in God! So therefore which model of “justice” does he follow? If God is “justice” himself and this judge declared that he has no fear of God, how can any of his judgements be “just” at all? Also, to add insult upon injury, he also had “no respect for man”. Again, if there is no respect for man (who is made in the image of God!), then how can the judge be “just”? However, despite all this, at the end the judge still gives the woman what she needed!

God too is ready to see that justice is done to those who “pray continually and never lose heart” – those “who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them” and therefore they think that God is not listening. Jesus is saying that God will not delay to do justice. He will do it, and he will do it speedily. But God’s time (“speed” or “delay”) depends on His will and does not necessarily mean the same time in our frame of mind! This is what constitutes the “faith” that Jesus wants to find when He, as “the Son of Man” comes – a Faith that is ready to put itself in the hands of God and “pray continually and never lose heart”.

Lord, sometimes we pray but you seem to be far away and too busy to listen to our needs. Help us to keep in mind that even during the time when you seem to delay listening to our prayers we will continue to pray unceasingly and never loose heart, and continue to believe that you will answer according to your own time and will. Thank you Lord!

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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