Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ex 17:8-13; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8
Will not God then secure the rights of God’s chosen ones
who call to him day and night. Will he be slow to answer them?
I will tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. Luke 18:7-8a
The Persistent Widow is one of my Sheroes
Rosa Parks, a shero of the civil rights movement, was a simple working woman with no power or status. She quietly and persistently worked behind the scenes to end racial injustice until one afternoon, after working all day, her body tired and feet aching, she had enough of being told where she could or couldn’t be. She publicly refused to give up her seat for a white person and go to the back of the bus—breaking an unjust law. Her persistent prayer turned into persistent action. Eventually, she won the battle against an unjust system. She is one of my sheroes.
The persistent widow in today’s gospel passage symbolizes those who were powerless and potential victims of exploitation. The widow had few rights and was expected to bear her injustice silently—she had no husband to defend her. Yet, this unnamed woman whom Jesus raises up, cried out publicly and persistently at the injustice she had suffered and to a judge who was both dishonest and self-serving. She was courageous in bringing her own case to the judge, repeatedly, until justice was served.
The crowd Jesus was addressing knew widows who were exploited and certainly knew judges who were corrupt. They expected the widow to give up and lose the battle. But this widow surprised them. She kept coming back and wore the judge down; she kept coming back until she received justice. She was unrelenting. She would not give up nor lose hope until justice was served. Therefore, like Rosa Parks, she is one of my sheroes along with all the named and unnamed women who have fought and continue to fight for justice against all odds.
The gospel writer connects the widow’s persistent action with Jesus’ words on persistent prayer. Persistent prayer empowers us to seek the good, the true, and the beautiful. Persistent action for justice gives hands and feet to our prayer. Our actions and prayers are one as we strive to live our faith every day in works of charity and acts of justice.
There are many issues in both our personal lives and in our world that need both persistent prayer and persistent action. Amid what may seem like impossible situations, we cry out with hope to our God who answers our prayer and empowers us to act.
Sister Terry Rickard, OP