Print Version November 12th, 2005
At first sight there’s a contrast between the two readings today. The first reading is all full of haste and energy and speed. The Word coming to the rescue, saving the Israelites, giving them safe passage, re-making the world to make us free. And not just quietly let loose but light-hearted, skipping like lambs, singing like children. As the image goes it is God who takes the initiative and we who can only respond with songs of joy.
But the gospel good news sounds less promising: there’s not much singing and skipping going on. Just a promise that if we pester enough, if we threaten violence, if we are irritating enough then God might manage to right our wrongs. It sounds like the initiative has to be all ours and the labour unrelenting.
I reckon though we jump to conclusions if we put it that way around—if we see God as the harassed judge delaying the justice that we are nagging for. Isn’t it a cop-out to leave all the justice to God—aren’t the reins of righteousness in our own hands? Aren’t we the ones who make the laws and bend them? Aren’t we the ones who elect the politicians we deserve? Isn’t justice ours to make or break?
And if that’s even a little bit true aren’t we more like the judge than the widow? Careless of God and the little ones alike. Too comfortable to pay the price justice would cost.
And if we take the judge’s place in this parable that places God in the widow’s shoes. And isn’t that a good image for our God? She is the one pestering us for justice, not the other way round. She won’t let us sleep until she gets her way—until all captives are free, until the orphans are fed, until the blind see, the lame are skipping like lambs, until the poor know the good news and sing for joy.