RCL Year C Proper 24
Genesis 32:22-31, Psalm 121, 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5, Saint Luke 18:1-8
Occasionally, when we strive to interpret the Scriptures, the Scriptures themselves give us an interpretation. And so it is with the Gospel today. Saint Luke tells us what Jesus’ parable means. It’s “a parable about [the disciples’] need to pray always and not to lose heart.”
Certainly, the widow in the parable does not lose heart. She simply wears down the unjust judge. She doesn’t let up, and he gives in. He is like water seeking its own level. He goes where it is easiest to go. Being unjust, he goes along to get along. Surprisingly, God is like that unjust judge, Jesus says. “And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? … he will quickly grant justice to them.”
If the swift answer to prayer depends on asking for justice, Jacob in the First Lesson may be out of luck. His sharp practices and corner-cutting have infuriated his brother and his father-in-law, and they hotly pursue him. Jacob is confronted by the messenger of God, and they wrestle all night long. Jacob doesn’t lose heart. Neither wrestler is victorious, and before the messenger can leave, Jacob demands a blessing which the messenger gives him. The blessing is his new name, Israel, which means that he has “striven with God and with humans, and [has] prevailed.”
You will rarely hear of disappointment in prayer. The people who pray, really pray, wouldn’t do any other but pray. Is not this your experience? Prayer gives us the opportunity to see things, to experience things, from God’s point of view. Prayer changes the one who prays. Prayer brings us into relationship with the One to whom we pray, so that the words to the greatest prayer we know always are answered: “thy will be done.”
If you pray that way you will always find your prayers answered. If you wrestle, as Jacob did, or persist, as the widow did, you will always find your prayers answered. Taken this way, making up our minds about prayer should be a very easy thing to do. And once we make up our minds, we should, each of us, practice what we preach.
Saint Luke 18:1.
Saint Luke 18:7-8a.