RCL Year C Proper 24 Complementary
Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 121, 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5, Saint Luke 18:1-8

As this Church Year draws to a close, the Gospels recently have pointedly illuminated a question for us all. “What, really, is your relationship with God like?” And so it is again today.

Two weeks ago the disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith. And Jesus tells them to be more concerned about whether they do what God asks of them.[1] What is their relationship with God? And last Sunday, Jesus cleanses ten lepers, and one returns to give thanks.[2] What is the relationship of the nine to God? What is the relationship of the one to God?

And today’s parable raises the same question. All three of these Gospels are unique to Saint Luke. They do not appear in Saints Matthew, Mark, or John. The parable of the Importunate Widow raises the same question. What, really, is her, what, really, is our relationship with God?

Importunate may be an unfortunate word: it means begging to the point of annoyance. It’s an antique word, like prodigal. But the parable of the Importunate Woman praises her for begging persistently. Her relationship to the unjust judge is that she begs persistently. And the unjust judge gives her the justice she demands. And the Lord asks, “Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?”[3] The Importunate Woman exemplifies what we should be.

We are to pray persistently. Our relationship to God is to be like the relationship of the Importunate Woman to the unjust judge. He simply gives in to her out of weariness. Much more than that will God grant justice to those who pray day and night.

And so it is with Jacob in the First Lesson. He wrestles with the angel or messenger of God all night long to be rewarded with a new name and thus a new identity: Israel, for he has striven with God and with humans, and has prevailed.[4]

By God’s mercy, we have time, and we have opportunity, to strive with God for what is right. You might say that we Christians, as the “New Israel”[5] have a special calling to strive with God for what is right. Time, opportunity, and calling—they pretty well close the door to any doubtful misgivings we may have.

These three Gospels, coming as they do at the end of the Church Year, remind us that our relationship with God best includes obedience, thankfulness, and persistence. Our relationship with God is and will be, now and for ever, what we make it to be. For it is true of us, as it is true of every human being, that we do, that we are, what we think is important.

[1] Saint Luke 17:5-10.

[2] Saint Luke 17:11-19.

[3] Saint Luke 18:7.

[4] Genesis 32:29.

[5] BCP, page 854.

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