Let us take some verses from

TODAY’S PSALM [121 or 120] as an anchor for a deeper understanding of TODAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 18: 1 – 8].

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall come my help? My help shall come from the Lord … he will keep your feet from stumbling … the Lord will guard you from all evil … guard your going and coming.”

Immediately think on Jesus’ words from our Gospel extract –

“hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect …?”

The judge is not in any way to be seen or understood as our Christian God who is righteous (or, better still,

JUST). He does not need to be badgered. The badgering of the Lord indicates a lack of faith. The unjust judge does eventually respond – but not in the interests of justice. The tardiness of his response does not involve the honest discernment of the widow’s rightful suite. Rather, he simply chooses to ‘get her off his back’.

The difference between the unjust judge and our God is the fact that the Lord hears and responds in exactly the opposite manner. We must develop the faith which acknowledges this truth. God-in-Christ immediately hears a genuine and honest (no secret agendas and no ‘bargaining’) intercession. His response is given

speedily.” We do not always hear it!

Our problem, far too often, is tied up with the reality that in our own minds we have, beforehand, determined what his response will or should be

. We fail to hear the answer and begin to badger the Lord (refer back to last week’s reflection). The judge should have “speedily vindicated” the widow but she would have had to accept the genuine justice delivered. She would have had to FEEL vindicated and understood it. The only thing she wanted from the judge was that he hear her case. The Gospel does not tell us that he had already given an unjust verdict. His injustice was the fact that he would not hear the widow’s case. The Psalm tells us that our God does “not sleep or slumber.” The Gospel tells us that the judge was dragging his heels, taking time out. The reason for this is not clear. However, it is likely that the widow’s case was relatively minor, and she was a woman in an age where females were not seen as especially important. He had forgotten God’s command to care for both widow and orphan. He “neither feared God nor man.”

Our faith must lead us to feel vindicated as soon as we have presented our ‘case’. Then, we need to develop the ability to understand the way in which our God works and responds but never forget that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways … so shall the word which comes from my mouth prevail; it shall not return to me fruitless without accomplishing my purpose or succeeding in the task I gave it.”

{see ISAIAH 55: 8 – 11}.

This is the expression of faith we should express when responding to the invitation of Jesus himself: “come to me, all who labour, whose load is heavy.” At the same time we accept with faith – “ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened.”

{see Matthew 11: 28 and 7: 7} How much of our intercessory prayer is presented to the Lord within a certain faith based on these foundations, and without already having predetermined his answer? There is no need for us to bother the Lord by wearing him out! In our NEW TESTAMENT READING [2 TIMOTHY 3: 14 – 4: 2] Saint Paul tells us that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” The lesson taught us by today’s Gospel needs to teach, reprove, correct and train us …. our God is far, far away from being like the unjust judge. There is no need to keep on bothering him as the widow was forced to do with the judge.

An important element in all of this is contained in our

OLD TESTAMENT READING [EXODUS 17: 8 – 13]. There we see the combination of prayer and active involvement. Prayer must always challenge us to action – after praise and thanksgiving we ask the Lord to help us achieve that for which we have prayed. So, for example a prayer for peace is not merely handing it all over to God but challengesME to be a worker for, and source of, peace in my own immediate environment. Moses and Joshua together – prayer and action. “From where shall come my help?” However prayer does not permit an abdication of responsibility.

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