Perhaps Jesus is using a bit of humor this morning to get our attention. You know the widow in Israel was the archetype of helplessness; she was among the most vulnerable in that society. And the Law of Moses decreed that she must be looked after by those who had more. But the judge in Jesus’ story is so despicable that just he wants to get rid of her and is attentive only because he’s afraid that this “helpless,” probably older woman might come and “strike” him. In one translation the judge says: “I will give her justice, otherwise she will keep coming and end up giving me a black eye.” It’s tragic comic.
Who have we made God into? Who does God want to be for us? These are some of the questions this Gospel raises for us. Could God our Father be at least as good as that nasty judge who gives a just sentence only because he’s afraid of a nagging widow? Might God our Father be at least as attentive as that? If a cruel and unfeeling judge will give in to an irritating widow, how much more will God listen to his own?(see Fred Craddock)
Maybe sometimes we pray as if we’re trying to keep God focused, remind him and get his attention, as if God’s not interested. Maybe we think we need to persuade or nag God. But God’s love, mercy and compassion- literally his suffering with us- are without question. Jesus understands; he gets it. And the ceaseless praying that he is asking of us today is meant to be a deep trust that God is with us, that God sees and understands most deeply everything that concerns us and is on our side. Our incessant prayer is an expression of our constant faith, our trust in God’s care, his loving will and desire for our good. And so, when we “pray always without becoming weary,” we express our trust in the attention of a loving God who wants our good. And we can expect great things.
Prayer is faith enacted, says one scholar. Indeed, what our faith does is pray; we reach out without giving up because we trust - we trust that Someone is listening. But this brings a special challenge, because prayer is a relationship. And if indeed in prayer we are relating to God, to Christ, then we are in relationship with a Someone who is completely other, completely Mystery. In prayer grow in intimacy with this Mystery who loves us. We become more and more accustomed to believing that God is going to work something out, even when we don’t understand God’s ways. We wait, we live in hope, “a hope that will not disappoint.” Part of our praying is then always being able to say, “I trust, even though I don’t understand.”
Jesus our Lord enfleshes this faith and faithfulness. His life, all that he did from the crib to the cross expresses this faithfulness of God-with-us. And so true to who he is, who God is, Jesus comes in the Holy Eucharist to feed us with himself, to be really with us, in us.