32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)
“Prayer from the heart can achieve what nothing else can in the world.“Mahatma Gandhi
Decades of long-suffering prayers, fasts, meditations, and non-violent protests of Gandhi and his followers eventually brought the mighty British Empire to its knees on August 15, 1947 when India gained her independence. Gandhi and the Empire bear a striking resemblance to Jesus’ image of the persistent widow and the unjust judge.
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me’” (Luke:18:1-5).
The Greek word used for “strike” is hupópiazó (to strike under the eye, i.e. giving someone “a black eye”). The term is also used in boxing, as in St. Paul’s line, “I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:27). All of these nuances blend together in the exasperated surrender of the judge who is simply worn out by the indefatigable widow.
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily (Luke 18:6-8a).
God likens himself to the unrighteous judge—a parallel that gives Jesus’ words a ring of authenticity due to its oddness and incongruity. If the steadfast entreaties of the widow and Gandhi finally moved their indomitable opponents, how much more will the God of heaven and earth be moved?
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8b)
If Jesus comes today, will he find faith on earth? Each person’s heart is a center of the earth and a sanctuary of faith if we are willing to persist in prayer like the tireless widow.
“My greatest weapon is mute prayer.“Mahatma Gandhi