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.
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 St Aug.ine, 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 on a question-mark. The editor added this "floating" remark of Jesus, which could fit many situations, to voice his own question, "When he comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Originally it probably referred to the long trial of the Roman persecution but it also speaks to the state of our Church, here and now. What are we, what am I, doing to promote faith, hope, love and justice, in imitation of Christ and responding to the gently inspirational leadership of our pope and other church leaders?
The widow in that parable is a wonderful portrayal of the refusal to get discouraged, even when everything goes against you and you come up against the worst instincts of other people. The widow encountered a judge who had no respect for God or other people, and yet she kept coming to him until she got the justice she was entitled to. Jesus paints this picture of a persevering widow who refuses to get discouraged because it captures the kind of faith that he is looking for from his disciples. Having spoken the parable, Jesus asks the question, 'When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?' Jesus is asking, when he comes back at the end of time, will be find a faith which has the same quality of dogged perseverance that the widow displayed. Jesus is calling for a faith that endures, that refuses to give up, even when all the supports for faith seem to be taken away. These have been difficult times for people of faith. We have all experienced the temptation to discouragement. Yet, Jesus is saying in this morning's gospel that to be a believer is to be a persistent believer. The supreme example of a persistent believer was Jesus himself. In spite of the evil he encountered in various forms, he remained faithful to the end, even as he hung on the cross. The widow is a Jesus figure. Like her, we are all called to have something of Jesus' persevering faith.