Today’s Gospel is a pep talk from Jesus to his disciples. It is a message about hanging in there, never giving up, and the importance of stick-to-itiveness. Perhaps the disciples had just been bemoaning the fact that they were experiencing hardship, that things were not going as they had hoped, or that their prayers were going unanswered. Jesus’ response to them included a parable about a judge… an unjust one for that matter… and a widow who was involved in some sort of dispute, probably over her property and possessions. In that society, a judge was in about as high a position as possible while the widow, who had no one to advocate on her behalf and who was in the process of losing her remaining property, was about as low as you could get. It’s surprising that she would even address him at all let alone keep after him in as persistent a fashion as she did. She sought justice and was not deterred by his thoughtless inaction.
Jesus’ pep talk was about persistence. And he likened this to our prayer, saying that we need not get discouraged by a seeming non-response.
This Gospel ends with Jesus’ pointed but open-ended question for the disciples to ponder. He asked: “… when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” In this case, he is equating faith to persistence. In other words, when the time comes for our ultimate judgement, will we be seen as having been persistent in our prayer? That is a pointed but open-ended question for us to ponder too. Are we persistent? I’ll personalize it: I’m asking myself if I am persistent. Are you persistent?
Persistence in prayer can take many forms. For example…
Continuing to pray for that person who seems lost and hopeless… even when that person is us.
Or… taking the time to pray the liturgy of the hours or the rosary every single day.
Or… going to the Adoration Chapel for a solid hour of quiet time with Jesus each and every week.
Or… making sure that before going to bed at night, we express gratitude for all of the blessings in our day and trying to find the blessings in that day even when it feels as though the curses outnumber them.
Or… persistence can take the form of true humility, surrendering to God’s will, trusting that doing so will help lead us forward and up and over all the hills and valleys, the challenges and chaos, of life.
Persistence in prayer and faith. Jesus connects them together in this simple parable about an unjust judge and a down and out widow.
And when the Son of Man comes and searches for signs of faith… because of our persistence, may he say: “There it is… I see it… and it’s right there”… in me… and in you.