Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you; they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God; for they began their journey for the sake of Christ, accepting no support from non-believers. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth.
Happy the man who fears the Lord,
who takes delight in all his commands.
His sons will be powerful on earth;
the children of the upright are blessed. (R./)
Riches and wealth are in his house;
his justice stands firm for ever.
He is a light in the darkness for the upright:
he is generous, merciful and just. (R./)
The good man takes pity and lends,
he conducts his affairs with honour.
The just man will never waver:
he will be remembered for ever. (R./)
Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Grant me justice against my opponent.' For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'"
In a crisis, most of us will go the extra mile (Mt 5:41), sometimes, but today's Gospel asks for fidelity over the long haul, not the single heroic act but the persistence to stay with the daily routine of duty, whatever that may be, given our age, our job and our local, familial or pastoral obligations to others. What we are expected to do is ordinary, but it takes God's extraordinary grace to keep at it.
The gospel addresses this paradox of seemingly getting nowhere and yet accomplishing very much, exemplified in the widow who kept coming to the judge, demanding her rights. Finally she wore him out, and so the judge settled matters in her favour. Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine, is patroness of persistent people. We can accomplish very much by a faithful, daily routine.
This final verse in the gospel is probably a later addition to the original parable about the widow. No other parable in the gospels ends with such a a question-mark as "When he comes, will he find faith on the earth?". The editor added this "floating" remark which questions the quality of our faith. Originally it referred to danger of apostasy during the persecutions but it can also question us, here and now. What are we (or what am I) doing to promote faith, love and justice, in imitation of Christ? To live our faith today we need the persistence of the widow who simply would not give up. And are our church leaders fostering faith as well as they could?
A courageous widow went to court before a judge who respected neither God nor man, but kept up her plea until she got justice at last. She embodies the kind of faith the Lord wants to see in us. At the end he asks the question, 'When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?'
When he comes as judge, will be find a faith that refuses to give up, even when many traditional beliefs have fallen away. In these difficult times for our church, there is a strong temptation to discouragement. But to be a true believer is to be persistent. The supreme example of persistence in face of contradiction is Jesus himself, who remained faithful to the end. The widow is a kind of Jesus figure showing us how to persevere.