Authentic faith, constant prayer, and the pursuit of justice are inseparable in the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). To win over opponents, we need both to lift up our hands in prayer and to act, work, or fight, as illustrated in the story of the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16).
In the parable of the widow, who was one of the most vulnerable figures in ancient society, she faced a formidable obstacle to her pursuit of justice: “a judge who neither feared God nor cared about people” (Lk 18:2). The widow, however, was courageous and persistent.
Somebody cheated or harmed her. Perhaps she was poor and yet her son did not fulfill his duty to provide her some support. Or she had no son, and although still marriageable, her brother-in-law refused to fulfill his duty of marrying her and securing her future. Maybe her adversary gave the judge a bribe.
Because her persistent pleas were wearing him out, the unjust judge decided to grant her justice. He did the right thing for an inferior or selfish reason.
Are we like the courageous widow or the unjust judge? Don’t we sometimes do the right thing for the wrong or inferior reason?
The story-teller and theologian, Megan McKenna, is right: God is like the persistent widow rather than the unjust judge. God is not someone either selfish or indifferent whom we have to pressure, shake up, or wear out through persistent prayers in order that we can get what we want or what we think is good.
God is like the widow. Even though God’s word through the prophets at many times had been ignored or rejected, God persisted and sent the beloved Son to set free all who are imprisoned or oppressed by sin and selfishness. Even though the Son was rejected and executed shamefully, his Spirit remains and keeps on calling us to conversion, justice, peace and mercy.
Some Church leader should put up a "Chapel (or Shrine) of (God) the Persistent Widow." Do we have the deep faith to see God in the widow or in the weak or vulnerable person who persists to seek what is right? May the Lord increase our faith: may the Lord help us to be constant in prayer and steadfast in the pursuit of justice.