Persistence pays off
“I promise you, he will see justice done to them,
and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).
Will the Son of Man find any faith on earth? Jesus is referring here to the faith and the insistence of the widow that the judge take her matter seriously.
The tale of the widow is a reminder that the Christian vocation necessarily includes the call to disturb the false peace of the complacent. The judge was complacent to the point of oblivion to the plight of the grieved widow.
This final lament of Jesus—’will the Son of Man find any faith on earth?’—gets to the point of today’s parable. The parable is a lesson about the persistence of the one who prays.
God wants us to be as persistent as the widow with the confidence that God always hears and answers our prayers. Jesus is aware of how easy it is for us to lose hope and to lose heart.
When we review the justice system in our own country, we are quite easily prone to give up along our quest to be heard. The rigmarole and the expense involved in securing justice often dampens our desire to achieve a just solution to our plight.
And so, we can understand Jesus’ lament on whether He will find any faith when He comes. Our faith is often tested by procedural and bureaucratic red tape, which often frustrates the best of us.
In the spiritual life, we are also tested to give up along our quest for holiness. We become despondent and often descend into a spiral of cynicism. Obstacles confront us and we are distracted from the goal of the Kingdom of Heaven for which we yearn. It is at times like these that we need to remember the persistence of the widow in today’s gospel.
There can be a type of complacency that develops like a cancer within our own parish or religious communities. It is a cancer very much akin to the complacency displayed by the unjust judge.
We encounter persons who having tried over many years to develop better lines of communication in their parish or religious communities, become lethargic and cynical after a while.
This happens as they consistently confront the attitudes or the modus operandi of one or other who is intent on aborting every attempt to growth. Such persons do not display any sign of the virtue of HOPE. These persons have allowed themselves to succumb to a major temptation in the spiritual life—it is the temptation to despair. It is counter-productive to the theological virtue of HOPE. It is the temptation of the widow. In her case, she consistently resists temptation and perseveres in her desire to achieve justice.
Within her heart, she keeps the flame of HOPE alive and demonstrates it in the FAITH that she displays through her persistent pleas to the unjust judge. She is the type of person whom the Son of Man will be seeking when He comes on earth: a person of deep FAITH. Will he find any of this type of FAITH on earth when He comes?
Heavenly Father! We believe in You. At times, however, we tend to lose heart. It happens when we encounter persons who have become complacent, like the unjust judge, and refuse to open their hearts to us. Please, Lord, never let us despair of hope. Give us the faith of the widow, who was not afraid to disturb the false peace of the complacent judge. Give us the faith and the confidence of the widow that You will always hear and answer our prayers. Amen.
The gospel reflections for October are by Abbot John Pereira OSB of the Abbey of Our Lady of Exile, Mount St Benedict.