Collect of the Day
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Scripture Reading of the Day,Luke 18:1-8
1 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2 He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, "Grant me justice against my opponent.' 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, "Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.' " 6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."
15 People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. 16 But Jesus called for them and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 17 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."
18 A certain ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Today's gospel reading is a parable-puzzle about the need to "pray continually and never lose heart". (New Jerusalem Bible translation) It strikes me as somewhat disrespectful to compare God's response to the prayers and pleadings of His people with the self-centered egotistical judge in this reading. To make the comparison even more ridiculous, the NJB translation of verses 4b-5 reads: "Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person, I must give this widow her just rights since she keeps pestering me, or she will come and slap me in the face." How silly for this judge to fear being slapped in the face by a nagging widow!
But wait! Jesus sets us straight, or tries to, when he instructs us to listen to what the "unjust judge" says. Jesus is leading us to consider this: unlike the unjust judge, God doesn't "grant justice" just because we cry out continually, just because we scream and holler, beg and plead, even when we appear to be "pestering" God day and night. The truth and wisdom we learn from Holy Scripture and from the life of Jesus is this: God wants conversation with His creation, with His people. When our side of the conversation - our prayers - seems to consist mostly of wants and needs, pleadings and promises, moans and groans, God listens. And God waits until we are ready to listen to God's side of the conversation! The more we listen, the more we receive God's answers and directions, the more ready we will be to answer the Son of Man's question in today's last verse: "And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
"Lord, open my heart and mind to hear Your side of the Divine Conversation! I pray that You will find faith bright, shiny and openly evident in my life. Jesus promises!"
thoughts of a fellow traveler - DMc