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The WORD. The TRUTH.

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After Jesus’ eschatological instruction (17:20-37), the parable of the persistent widow, found only in Luke (18:1-8), follows to press home the point that he was making- the need for continual prayer (v1) to mark the existence of disciples until the coming of the day of the Son of Man (v8b).

Jesus instructed the disciples that they should pray always ‘without becoming weary’ (v1b). The verb used is ἐκκακέω (ekkakeō), found only six times in NT, literally translated as “to be in a bad way” (in a general sense), but understood in this context “to be weary”, in the sense of “to grow tired”, or “lose heart”, (i.e., give up all hope of accomplishing one’s goal, or maintaining one’s faith; cf 2 Cor 4:1, 16; Eph 3:13). The virtue of never growing weary in doing good is noted in Gal 6:9; 2 Thes 3:13. Thus the stance exhibited by the persistent widow before the dishonest judge (vv3-5). The first point of the parable is that her perseverance obtains the desired end, her vindication before her accuser. God will do the same for those who are steadfast in prayer. Furthermore, it underlines the contrast between the unjust judge and the just God. If even a dishonest judge can be prevailed upon to do justice and ultimately responds to the persistent widow, how much more will the upright God and faithful Lord listen and will do no less for his suppliants, and in particular his chosen ones, his disciples, and “quickly”, at that, (v7-8a). God is infinitely better than the wicked judge. He does not consider prayer a nuisance and he is not bothered when asked for favors.

Another important point given as an allegorization of the parable in its present setting is that the need to pray always is related to the Christian faith as is signaled by the preceding chapter and dovetailed by the final verse, (v8b). The return of the Son of Man (17:22-37) has been delayed. The decisive question which Jesus poses points to the faith which undergirds prayer; he wonders if it will perdure until the parousia. It is then more a steadfast posture of faith that expresses itself in persevering prayer rather than a constantly repeated verbalization of prayer that Jesus seeks. Persistence springs from faith and confidence in God who always listens to prayer and is faithful to his promise.

Prayers do not always result in a request being granted. But perseverance in prayer strengthens rather than diminishes faith. It enables us to see beyond particular needs and to view ourselves as a part of a larger plan, which as baffling and disconcerting as it may at times ultimately brings us to God. Readings today remind us that God is mindful of our needs but even more importantly it points to the need for trust, (cf Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tim 3:14-4:2). Everything may not turn out the way we hope but we have the greatest assurance that our prayer does not fall on deaf ears. Remember, what we have is a loving Father, and all the more we can pray confidently to him and never be weary.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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