Sunday, October 9, 2016

Luke 18.1-8: Ourselves in the Story

The persistence of the widow in Luke 18:1-8 (Proper 24C/Ordinary 29C) ultimately got her what she sought. What she sought was justice. The judge - admittedly uncaring about much of anything including justiceand therefore unjust - ultimately gives in. Not because he cares about her or her cause or justice but because he gets tired of her constant nagging. It's a little disheartening as an example of human judicial process. It's more disheartening to realize that human nature may have changed little since this gospel was written.

Symeon Shimin. "Contemporary Justice - the Child". 1940. Tempera. Washington DC: Department of Justice.

The tempera painting above hangs in the Great Hall of the U.S. Department of Justice. The artist, Symeon Shimin (1902-1984), illustrated more than 50 children's books, writing two himself. Though the subject was probably assigned as part of a series of paintings in the building, Shimin's affinity for the subject of justice in relation to the child makes sense.

Don't lose heart, the parable tells us. Don't lose heart even when the system is broken. The widow doesn't give up; she keeps petitioning the judge. She doesn't change from her course. The judge doesn't change either, but the widow eventually gets what she has been seeking. God's justice will come, sometimes through human judicial processes...and sometimes in spite of them. 

The National Observance of Children's Sabbaths is usually in October. Congregations are 
encouraged to "stand tall within our communities and push our nation to keep our promises of love and justice, equality and dignity for all." (Children's Defense Fund; 

This painting reminds us of the promises of justice that we make to our children. What we, as people of faith, must ask ourselves as we consider this story (and the state of our nation) is whether, in relation to our children, we are the widow persisting in our quest for justice or the unjust judge.

For thoughts on Jeremiah 31:27-34, click here.

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