Persistent Widow

widow2Throughout the Gospels Jesus is constantly repeating the same thing over and over again – the Kingdom of God is here in your midst. The Kingdom is come – in Jesus. The Kingdom is Now; the Kingdom is also Not Yet. Which is where the tension resides: The Kingdom is here and now; the Kingdom in its fullness is not yet. But over the centuries Christianity has lost a sense of the Kingdom Now and has tended to focus on the Not Yet. But when we do this we loose an important and central part of Jesus teaching – we loose a sense of immediacy; and we also loose a sense of our own mission and calling.
It is with the Parables where Jesus is the most blunt with his descriptions of the Kingdom come Now into our midst. This week we hear the rather odd story of the Unjust Judge or the Persistent Widow and like most of Jesus’ parables there are a variety of ways this one can be interpreted. One approach is for us to identify with the Widow. In this interpretation we acknowledge that we seek after justice and while justice is denied and denied and denied the parable teaches us to be persistent and never stop praying or working for justice. And so, persistence is a key word here – like the widow we should never give up. We know that God is a just God for whom justice is a priority. And so we work for justice – no matter the obstacles – we recognize that it is our job to reach out to those who are in need of food or clothing or comfort and so on. And we are to remain committed to this work over the long haul – we are to be persistent.
Another way of interpreting this Parable is to relate God to the Unjust Judge or maybe we might think of the Judge as the Incompetent Judge. What if the point is that God is the Incompetent Judge in that God’s love for God’s people and God’s commitment to justice is so overwhelming that God throws fairness (which is usually a characteristic of a good judge) out of the window and showers love and grace abundantly on those who do not deserve it. Nowhere does Jesus state that the widow’s suit was right or just. And the problem with the judge is that he just doesn’t want to waste his time on what he might see as a frivolous case. The injustice then is that she can’t get a hearing. And in the end she still doesn’t get a hearing because the judge rules in her favor just to get her out of his hair.
Perhaps God is like that. Because of God’s overwhelming and overflowing love for us, God rules in our favor and sends us away to continue to work in the Kingdom. It is as though God is saying to us: Stop trying to justify yourself – stop judging others – get to the work of the Kingdom: the work of Generosity, the work of Finding the Lost, the work of Sowing the Seeds, the work of seeking Justice for our neighbor – and commit yourselves to this work – be persistent in your work and always remember that God is not so interested in judging as God is interested in loving!