Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 88; 148, Malachi 3:1-12, James 5:7-12, Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told a parable about a widow who kept asking a judge for justice against her opponent. This judge neither feared God nor respected people. He refused her for a long time, but eventually relented so she would not wear him out with constant bother. Jesus said if such an unjust judge granted justice, God would surely be swift to grant justice to His children when they cried out to him.
Justice doesn’t always seem swift. Like the widow, we keep asking but it eludes us. Why would a God who acts swiftly make us wait? Danish philosopher and Christian theologian Søren Kierkegaard said “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” When justice seems slow, perhaps it is because we are slow to change. If our prayer for justice remains unanswered, could it be time to examine what we’re asking for, why we’re asking, and whether we need to change to make it happen? Or maybe we are changing, but don’t feel it. We don’t know how many times the widow approached the judge, or what she said, but in her persistence she one day became the person he didn’t want to be bothered by again. Even if her demand never changed, what she represented did and that could only happen over time.
When Pope Francis said: “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That’s how prayer works,” he was very much in line with Kierkegaard. If our only hope for justice is outside ourselves and our relationship with God, we will be forever disappointed. Despite what you’ve read on bumper stickers, Gandhi never actually said “Be the change you want to see in the world,” but it resonates with us because it is a universal truth. Justice begins on the inside. We can point fingers all day long, often with good reason, but ultimately that fixes nothing and persuades no one.
Prayer is what we say, but also what we do and how we live. If you feel like justice isn’t being served, maybe it’s waiting for you to whip up a batch.
Comfort: Prayer will change you if you let it.
Challenge: Be open to being changed.
Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, and your justice. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever realized you were the solution to a problem?
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