A meditation on Luke 18:1-8 for the community at St. David of Wales Episcopal Church, Shelton
What does it mean for us to pray like the widow? Because Jesus doesn't give any specific details in his parable, we're free to imagine whatever sort of widow we want. We can imagine, like one commentary I read, a weak little old lady leaning on her cane. A soft-spoken succinct woman who shows up every day with her plea down to one simple and sentence “I want my property restored to me,” and receives what she wants because of her faithfulness. In that scenario, we prayer is orderly, dignified, and quiet.
However, in the dozens of commentaries I read, a different view of the widow prevailed. Writing in his book The Cultural World of Jesus, biblical scholar John J Pilch helps set the context for this parable by saying that the word widow in Greek meant one who has no voice. A widow would usually have a male relative speak on her behalf because she had no rights for property or inheritance.
But this widow doesn't have a male figure to advocate on her behalf. She is speaking on her own behalf, demanding justice. Pilch notes that she was not speaking in private at judge’s chambers as we might imagine today. She was confronting the judge in a very public forum in front of other people, and that the judge’s failure to act would bring shame upon him.
I began blogging about "This or Something Better" in 2011 when my husband and I were discerning what came next in our lives, which turned out to be relocating to Puget Sound from our Native California. My older posts can be found here.