Saturday (November 18):  "Always pray and do not lose heart"

Meditation: What can a shameless and unjust judge pitted against a crusty and pestering woman teach us about justice and vindication in the kingdom of God? Jesus tells a story that is all too true - a defenseless widow is taken advantaged of and refused her rights. Through sheer persistence she wears down an unscrupulous judge until he gives her justice. Persistence pays off, and that's especially true for those who trust in God. Jesus illustrates how God as our Judge and Vindicator is much quicker to come to our defense and to bring us his justice, blessing, and help when we need it. But we can easily lose heart and forget to ask our heavenly Father for his grace and help.

Faith-filled persistence reaps the fruit of justice and grace
Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) to give his disciples fresh hope and confidence in God's unfailing care and favor towards us (grace). In this present life we can expect trials and adversity, but we are not without hope in God. The Day of the Last Judgment will reveal that God's justice triumphs over all the injustices perpetrated by a fallen world of sinful people and that God's love is stronger than death (Song of Songs 8:6). Those who put their faith in God and entrust their lives to him can look forward with hope and confident assurance. They will receive their reward - if not fully in this present life then surely and completely in the age to come in God's kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17).

Jesus ends his parable with a probing question for us. Will you and I have faith - the kind of faith that doesn't give up or lose hope in God - but perseveres to the end of our lives - and to the end of this present age when the Lord Jesus will return in glory as Ruler and Judge of All? Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. We could not believe, trust, and persevere with hope if God did not first draw us to himself and reveal to us his merciful love and care. If we want to grow and persevere in faith until the end of our days, then we must nourish our faith with the word of God and ask the Lord to increase it (Luke 17:5). When trials and setbacks disappoint you, where do you place your hope and confidence? Do you pray with expectant faith and confident hope in God's merciful care and provision for you?

"Lord Jesus, increase my faith and make it strong that I may never doubt your word and promise to be with me always. In every situation I face - whether trials, setbacks, or loss - may I always find strength in your unfailing love and find joy and contentment in having you alone as the treasure of my heart."


This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/