Jesus’ parable (a parable is a short story with a religious or moral point) from Luke is not focused on the unjust judge. Instead, the story is about a widow. Widows appear throughout scripture, interacting with prophets, kings, and Jesus. Widows are women who are alone because their husbands have died. These women were in a dangerous situation. It was assumed that women should not have access to money, jobs, or a family inheritance. Rather, women were an extension of their husbands and fathers with no financial independence. A woman’s financial security depended on their husband. Even though scripture has many examples of women who inherit property and who are wealthy, this was the exception rather than the rule. When a woman’s husband died, her financial security vanished. Poverty and hunger loomed. These women would do all they could to take care of themselves and their family but their lack of resources is a major problem. When a widow is mentioned in scripture, she represents the poor and the hungry. She represents those without power. She is one of the many who are suffering today and will be suffering tomorrow. Being a widow in scripture is a very dangerous thing.
As we listen to this gospel reading today and reflect on this parable throughout the week, we should notice what the widow asks for. She doesn’t ask for money or a job or security. What she asks for is justice. So what is justice? In this reading, justice lis the opposite of who the judge is. The judge does not fear God and he does not respect other people. In fact, his response to the widow is to grant her justice because he doesn’t like to be bothered! For this judge, his needs matter more than the needs of others. For this judge, his point of view matters more than God’s. Justice is fearing God and respecting the other. Justice is something that God desires and demands. Justice is something God promises to all. When we hear the word justice, what does it look like? How is this justice experienced? What is justice for someone without power or security? What is justice for someone with power and who knows where their next meal is coming from? These are just some of the questions this parable invites us to ask and prayerfully seek answer for. Justice, in scripture, isn’t an abstract ideal. For Jesus, and for us, justice is real.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 10/16/2016.