The prayer of the widow in this parable represents the anguish of so many millions who cry out for justice and a resolution of the problems of the world. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
1 Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. 2 ‘There was a judge in a certain town,’ he said, ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. 3 In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” 4 For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, 5 but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’
6 And the Lord said, ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? 7 Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? 8 I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’
Other readings: Exodus 17:8-13 Psalm 120 (121) 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
This gospel reading presents us with the stark choice facing us all. Are we people of faith who amid all the troubles of the world know that we are in the hands of God? Or are we faithless and despairing? When the Son of Man comes, will he indeed find faith on the earth?
The widow who prays for justice against her enemy reflects the plight of so many millions who cry out to God to put right the injustices of the world. The human yearning that the life of all people be respected and fostered is deeply felt by Christians.
Christians know that God has entrusted to creation, and to human beings, the awesome gift of freedom, which has both wonderful and devastating consequences. Freedom makes possible acts of selfless heroism, courage and generosity, the finest expressions of that human love which reflects the love of God. Freedom also makes possible acts of unutterable cruelty and hatred, which are equally the free choice of human beings.
The prayer of the widow represents the anguish of so many millions who cry out for justice and a resolution of the problems of the world. Amid such widespread distress Christians point to the overriding loving kindness of God, who ‘will see justice done’. The reality of God’s loving kindness is seen repeatedly in the loving human responses to the troubles of this world, and above all in the self-giving love of Christ, made present at each Eucharist.
Faith tells us that we are constantly held by God. It is crucial to confront the power of self-obsession and disbelief with the power of loving kindness, faith and prayer.
Do I trust in the overriding goodness of God amid all the troubles of the world?
Do I blame God for suffering and pain?
Let us pray for faith to inspire our words and deeds.
Let us ask for the gift of perseverance in prayer.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy