Friday, October 14, 2016

Never Giving Up on Justice

There is a small little parable in Luke 18 where Jesus teaches his disciples about the necessity to pray always and not give up.  He uses two characters in his story who represent the most powerful and the least powerful persons in Hebrew society in his day---a judge and a widow.  The judge held the most power because with his word he could order someone to do something and bring about justice in situations where it was desperately needed.  The widow was the least powerful person in society because her merit, worth, and stand in the community was always connected to a man.  Her husband, her son, or some other male relative determined her income and her status.  So, when a woman lost her husband and if she had no other male relative to speak up for her, then she was dependent on society for her living and few would come to her aid if she were in distress. 

So, Jesus tells a story about a widow who asked a judge to free her from oppression by another in society. At first, the judge refused to listen to her but she returned again and again until finally he gave in, not because of his fondness for the widow or her cause but because she bothered him too much.  He was wearied by her asking for the same thing over and over again so he finally gave her what she wanted just to get rid of her. 

Jesus concludes the parable by telling his disciples never to give up but to pray constantly and ask God for what they would need.  He tells them that God "will quickly grant justice" to those who ask.  Then, he concludes by asking the question, "And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"  A strange question perhaps but one that asks us, "Do we give up when we pray and work for justice to be done in the world or do we continue to ask and work and make something happen that will bring about justice in our broken world?" 

I have written to my senators and congressmen about issues only to receive a form letter reply which stated that they were glad to hear from me but it made little difference what I said.  They were going to do what they wanted regardless of what I said.  I tossed the letter in the trash and said, "Oh well, I  tried."  What would it take for me or you to not stop with writing a letter and instead get on a plane or train or bus and go to Washington or Austin to speak directly to our representatives and let them know we are serious about what we wrote to them about?  Why do we give up when we receive an answer that shoots down our ideas by someone we have elected?  Why do we not speak truth to power as Jesus did?  Perhaps we have been convinced by someone that "you can't fight city hall." 

Jesus was teaching his disciples that he would fight city hall and Caesar and anyone else he needed in order to bring about what he believed in for the world he would die for.  He gave his life for what he believed in and rose again to bring about a new life for all.  Today, we risk little of the harm that Jesus did when we speak up for our beliefs but we are hesitant to do so because we avoid conflict.  Perhaps it is time to pray and work for justice to be done in our world if we truly believe that the prayer, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" is possible.  Heaven on earth may not exist today but God's Kingdom will come one day in the future.  Will we do our part to make earth a bit more heavenly in our lifetimes? 

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