We're reaching the end of the church's year of grace. So far we've experienced Advent, the arrival of God incarnate in our midst as a tiny baby. Then onto Epiphany, the revelation of God's good news for all people everywhere. Jesus' baptism, his temptation in the wilderness, the start of Jesus' public ministry (different in all four gospels), on to Holy Week, Jerusalem, Jesus' death on Good Friday, through Holy Saturday – the day nothing happens but everything happens – then the surprise of Resurrection Sunday morning.
Easter is fifty days, a week of weeks! The day of Pentecost is the 50th day of Easter and initiates the particular reign of the Holy Spirit who brings sanctification, theosis (as the Eastern Churches describe it), divinization. We also call the season of Pentecost the time of the church.
During the green season of Pentecost we have incidents, parables, and stories from Jesus' life and ministry. Luke uniquely brings us the Waiting Father/ Prodigal Son / Older Brother that shows us God's reconciling embrace. The Good Samaritan also is unique to Luke and brings us the healing hands of God. During this part of the year of grace, we make another journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, to the cross.
Next Sunday will be another "after Pentecost," followed by Reformation Sunday, that's no longer quite solely a protestant commemoration and celebration. The following Sunday, All Saints, we especially remember the saints who have gone before us into the Church Triumphant. One more numbered Sunday after the day of Pentecost, and then it's Christ the King, Reign of Christ, when we acknowledge the sovereignty of the Crucified Jesus of Nazareth. This king reigns from a cross; with arms open and outstretched, he invites reprobate law-breakers into the divine presence. "Jesus, remember me." "Today you will be with me in Paradise."
1Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, "Grant me justice against my opponent.' 4For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, "Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.' " 6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
Today Luke features a persistent widow and an unjust judge. How is the unjust judge like God? Not really, though we often try to uncover and discover parallels, metaphors (not to get too Bultmannian), and similarities in the biblical parables. Luke emphasizes vulnerable, marginalized people in his gospel: widows; orphans; foreigners; immigrants; women in general... no one was in a more precarious situation than a widow, esp if her late husbands didn't leave behind a brother for her to marry.
The widow prays to the judge. Did you know pray is a legal term? Answering George: this was not a religious court; it was a secular one, like going to the county courthouse. The judge ultimately wanted to protect his reputation; God does not care about protecting God's own reputation!
Upshot? Pray always, do not lose heart. Remember the heart primarily is the seat of the will in Hebrew biology. Was it a poster of a song that reminded us Love Takes Time?! God's – and humanity's – left-handed paradoxical power of love, mercy, compassion, and true justice is much slower than so-called right-handed of violent, forceful, death-dealing power.
I referenced the long and still ongoing struggle for Civil Rights in this country and the demise of the Soviet Union. l asked if the Monsanto powers that be will win or will prayer, letter-writing, peaceful demonstration, ultimately win the day?