18 November. Saturday, Week 32
While gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command, and stood and filled all things with death, and touched heaven while standing on the earth.
For the whole creation in its nature was fashioned anew, following your commands, so that your children might be kept unharmed. The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp, and dry land emerging where water had stood before, an unhindered way out of the Red Sea, and a grassy plain out of the raging waves, where those protected by your hand passed through as one nation, after gazing on marvellous wonders. For they ranged like horses, and leaped like lambs, praising you, O Lord, who delivered them.
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 the first reading, the Book of Wisdom uses the miraculous events of the Exodus story to show God's ongoing concern for His people in every age. For Christians it evokes for the great mission of God's eternal Word, who is Christ, into the world. He will preserve his people from all harm, purify them of their sins and save them from the death that threatens them as did the Egyptians during the crossing of the Red Sea.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about a judge and a persevering widow, to advise us of the need to be patient in prayer. In all cases, we need to have hope, even in desperate cases, since God always has a way to save His people. .
It was the temptation of believers to lose heart that Jesus had in mind when he spoke the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. Here was a woman who refused to lose heart, even though she was facing a judge who neither feared God nor had any respect for other people.
This powerless widow was being faced down by a powerful judge; the odds were all stacked against her. But she refused to give up because she knew that justice was on her side. She refused to lose heart. Jesus puts this woman before us as a model of persevering faith in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles.
At the end of his comment on this parable, Jesus asks the question, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?" Jesus is asking if he will find the kind of resilient faith that typified the widow or, rather, will he find that people have lost heart and given up the struggle to believe. God's faithfulness is not in question. The question mark is over our faithfulness. Jesus spoke this parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. In other words, the primary way we keep faithful when times are difficult is through prayer.