Article 52: God, the Nagging Widow

Here is a short quiz.  Can you say what took place on each of these dates:

  1. 9/11
  2. 11 March 2004
  3. 20 March 2003

My guess is that most of us got just one right.

  1. 9/11            Destruction of World Trade Centre       5000 dead
  2. 11 March 2004    Madrid station bombed
  3. 20 March 2003    Bombing of Iraq      100 000 dead

If we can only remember the first date, what does this say about the impact, each of these events, had on us?  Why do we remember 9/11, when the symbol of wealth was destroyed, and no longer remember the poor people of Iraq?

Perhaps the parable of the of the ‘unjust judge’ or ‘the nagging widow’,  has something to teach us all.

1 Then Jesus told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always and not to lose heart.

2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them.”   (Lk 18: 1 – 8)

This parable is usually interpreted as encouraging us to persevere in prayer. Perhaps there is another way of understand it.  In Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict tells us that, “Prayer is listening to God speaking to us and we responding to God’s Words.”  God, speaking through the nagging widow, in the parable, continues urging us to act justly to the poor and the powerless of our society.  Perhaps we are too self-centred, so concerned about our busyness, that we no longer have time to think of others.  We often focus on the large tasks we can do little to change.  The small deeds are also important; a slice of bread, a kindly remark, a gentle word of advice, will bring comfort to those in pain.

Our God is pushing us, through today’s prophets.  “Give the poor and the powerless what they need!”

God says to Moses  “I have seen the misery of my people here in Egypt; I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know well what they are suffering; therefore I have come down to bring them up from that land and to bring them to a beautiful spacious land flowing with milk and honey.”  Moses is then given his mission and so are we:

“Go now!  I am sending you.”  (Ex 3: 7 – 8, 10)

How are we going to respond to our “nagging widow God’s” invitation to help the poor?  Will our God find us true to the highest values of our humanity, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the ill and visiting the imprisoned?  (Mt 25: 35 – 36)

(After Br Philip Pinto)

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