Women (and men) of purpose and persistence
By Celia Regis
This woman! Immediately upon reading this gospel passage, I recall a seminary Bible professor’s voice and emphasis in opening our minds and hearts to the significance of Deuteronomy – “this law”!
In this case, this woman is the ‘type’ or icon of justice who challenges the status quo and breaks the cycle of disrespectful power brokers who become their own idols. I’m also reminded of the acronym PUSH – pray until something happens. St Paul too, adjures us to ‘pray ceaselessly’, keeping alert with all supplication, tireless fervour.
This Lukan account of Jesus’ topsy-turvy story, continuing on the subject of fulfilment of his day of reckoning and the realisation of the Kingdom of God, along with the importance of faith throughout the tumultuous life of converts to the Truth, is hilarious and hard-hitting at the same time.
This story of the need for constant heartiness of prayerful intent and the opportunity to compare and contrast the nature of God against the self-absorbed judge and the matter of timely attention to our needs had me smirking about the sheer boldness of the brave woman.
She’s already ostracised in her community — no husband, the ‘curse’ of being female, unjustly treated, unheard and dismissed as being inconsequential.
Yet, a woman after my own heart, she eh giving up! She’s pushing back against the injustice and discriminatory cultural practices and flawed governance systems, including structural issues which impact positive societal development and personal well-being.
No disrespect, even as the judge admits that he cares about no one, not even God. This woman’s challenge to the status quo is not without risk, but she carefully strategises her approach.
Contrary to accepting invisibility, she’s in the face of the judge, wherever he is. He in turn, because of her courage and persistent effort is moved along the path of submission to her needs. He most likely would not use those words or frame it like that but, faith assures us that God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.
Unpacking the practice of active faith and persistent, ceaseless prayer, I’m also reminded of another professor, now a bishop, who teased our sensibilities about the marvels of how the brain works, beyond mere physiology.
Transformation of the brain’s energy networks, in turn impacts the will and ability to “pray until something happens”. That movement helps us “not to lose heart” — empathy is generated, we care, sustaining strong faith by regularly exercising and toning the ‘prayer muscles’.
Why should we do this, we may ask, when our experiences often have shown us that God’s not answering our prayers, certainly not how we feel that is best for us.
We need to listen carefully to Pope Francis’ exhortation during a recent homily in St Peter’s Square, that we must take time to learn about who we are, how we think, what motivates or influences our decisions. Then Pope Francis asserts, each of us will be better disposed to discern our truth and mission!
Let’s remember that even the grace to pray comes from God. Let’s listen closely to Jesus’ words. Unlike the careless and callous judge, God is running after us, seeking our best interests, even when we may not see or understand His purpose or provision or His timing.
Faith and persistent prayer are the keys to unlocking our minds and hearts, whilst we actively exercise our responsibility to resist injustice and express our needs. We are loved and seen by God.
The gospel meditations for October are by Celia Regis, a parishioner of the Our Lady of Fatima RC Church, Curepe.