29th Sunday In
Ordinary Time: October 21, 2007
Mass at 4PM for St. Anthony of Padua.
What better day than Voting Day to hear
about praying for justice?! What better city than New Orleans, with people
waiting for the Government to answer their prayers for justice and Insurance
Companies to come through with money that is rightfully theirs and people
waiting for over two years with no reply?!
It seems this parable is meant for us,
First, let us clear up the possible
confusion that God is like the unjust judge who is slow to answer the widow’s
plea for justice. It really is the opposite. It is saying how much
more will God hear our prayer. However, if we confuse this story, a
parable, with an allegory we might think God is like the unjust judge, reluctant
to answer our prayers.
This message and story told by Jesus had
very significant meaning in his day because widows were among the most
insignificant persons in society, with no rights and no husband to support them.
In His day as well as ours there were unjust judges, unjust laws and red tape
that slowed down the process.
The widow, however, is persistent in her
plea to ‘render a just decision for me against my adversary. With a touch
of humor Jesus says the judge thinks she might strike him and hit him.
The point is: pay attention to the
fact that this unjust judge will finally give her justice. God who is much
more eager to answer our prayers will give us justice.
But we live in a world that is not as
compassionate as the God we believe in. Besides there is loads of red tape
and papers and other hoops to pass through, even if every ‘judge’ or
organization was eager to give justice. I think of law suits that wait and
are tabled for years. I think of people on death row, or in our prisons,
mostly people of color, who do not get the justice that white people do.
There are not even enough lawyers to help them and the ones who help the poor
don’t get paid much.
Jesus is giving us, his disciples, encouragement for our ministry of justice.
We, as disciples, ought to be seeking justice for those in need and for those
for whom justice is slow in coming.
Why pray? Jesus realizes that we could lose heart and give up in the cause
for justice. It is so daunting and disheartening that we could bail out
and just tend to our own needs. Our faith can weaken under the pressures
and delays, unless we are persistent in prayer.
I recall a group of Dominicans back in the
’60’s’ when we realized after the Vatican Council that justice, social justice,
was an integral part of the Gospel. They formed a community in the heart
of Washington DC to help the poor and lobby on Capitol Hill for the
disenfranchised. However, they got so caught up in all the injustice and
began to weary and burn out because they didn’t keep up an intense prayer life
to balance the stress of their ministry.
Mother Teresa is a good example of prayer
and justice. She worked for the poor and taught her Sisters to work on
behalf of the poorest of the poor, but she also knew that an intense prayer life
had to accompany her ministry.
It is easy in New Orleans to become
despondent amidst so much violence, so little justice and so many problems.
Where is God? God has not left us, but if we stop praying and do not join
prayer to our work for justice we will think that God is not hearing us.
When we pray we experience a God of compassion and we receive the energy we need
to keep on keeping on.
The faith that saves is the faith that
endures even when justice is slow in coming. It is a faith the trusts and
continues to work for justice. It is a faith that keeps our hearts hopeful
and compassionate. It is a faith that prays even after we receive our
answers. We will never stop praying and if we never stop praying we will
never stop believing and if we never stop believing that justice is possible, it
will eventually come and in the meantime we will treat one another with kindness
Vote your conscience!
Below is a
Prayer for those who Teach Justice, provided by our Diocesan Office of Peace and
Justice. Since we are all called to teach justice by our lives, we invite
you to cut it out and pray it regularly.
Prayer for Those who Teach Justice
We give thanks for your light and love, Gracious
God. You have given us a precious mission which
stirs our soul.
We are grateful for your Spirit moving through us,
helping us to form the words of justice, peace,
and love, helping us to proclaim your Good News.
We see the wonderful things you have done for
us, and we cherish the challenge of reaching out,
being your voice of hope to a world of sorrow.
Renew us this day and everyday.
We quickly grow weary, easily falter, lose heart and dance with despair.
We need to open ourselves to your grace, to listen with longing for your call,
to be like the Magi, following a sometimes distant star.
Remind us we are part of a community, we are part of a people on pilgrimage, we
are never alone. We are nourished at your table and we nourish each other
through sharing. You have called us by name and we are yours. Amen.