The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C - 17th October 2010

The fight for justice is never an easy one.  By its nature, to have to fight for justice means that the one fighting is the underdog and underdogs always have to work harder.  The story that Jesus tells us in this passage uses the image of the widow who was looking for justice from an unjust judge and eventually gets her way by continuing to insist.  The message is that if you persevere you can eventually wear down the one who is unjust.

What is curious about this passage is that Jesus uses this example as a way of teaching us to pray always.  Is he saying that God is unjust and that we can change God's will by badgering God?

I suspect that this is not what Jesus is saying.  To follow St. Augustine (Letter 130 to Proba), God is all powerful and because God is all powerful it is not possible that our words could influence God's will.  It is perfectly possible, on the other hand, that God can choose to accede to our requests.  However, God is all knowing so why do we even need to ask.  In other words, Augustine asks about the role of using words in our prayer.  I find Augustine's argument compelling.  He says that we use words in prayer so that we can refine our desires.  Often what we think we want is not what we actually would really want if we could see the fuller picture.  By using words in prayer we are actually speaking to ourselves, teaching ourselves.  God doesn't need our words because God reads our hearts but our hearts are often a mystery to ourselves.  By trying to articulate our needs to God we can come to an understanding of our relationship with God, with one another and with ourselves.

We desire justice and yet, to enjoy justice we should ourselves be just.  Our words that express our desire for justice should awaken in us a commitment to justice.

God is not the unjust judge of the story Jesus tells.  God is the Father who takes care of the children.  As any parent knows it is not always wise to give children everything they ask for.

The value here is justice.  Justice is part of the reign of God, an integral part of it.  To participate in the reign of God justice is a sine qua non.  Praying for justice is about our own transformation into being people of justice.  Prayer is about journeying towards the kingdom.  Are we able for the journey and when the Son of Man comes, "will he find faith on the earth?"


Article posted on 16th of October 2010

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