The arc of prayer

In the epic novel The Lord of the Rings, the elves of Lothlorien admit that they are losing their forest lands. But they battle on. They describe their struggle as “fighting the long defeat.” This is the source of the comment made by Paul Farmer, who fought a “losing battle” for health care for the poor. Farmer was a physician and medical anthropologist who co-founded “Partners in Health”, an NGO committed to the idea that good public health and medicine was possible to poor areas of the world. In Tracy Kidder’s biography of Farmer (Mountains Beyond Mountains) Farmer says, “I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing… I actually think sometimes we may win… So, you fight the long defeat.” His life and work reminds me of the persistent widow. Continue reading

A Final Word from Jesus

This Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Cycle C. Today is the final post on the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow. Today we hear Jesus: 7 Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? 8 I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Continue reading

The Widow

This Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Cycle C. In yesterday’s post we looked in detail at the judge. Today we turn our attention to the persistent widow. The entire parable rings with the echo of Sir 35:14-24 (note: depending on translation you find verse numbering slightly different – also, this is part of the OT reading for the 30th Sunday in Year C) Continue reading

The Judge

This Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Cycle C. Today we consider the Judge:

2 “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 3 And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ 4 For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, 5 because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” 

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A Judge and a Widow

This Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Cycle C.  After several days of important context, today we move into the heart of the parable. This parable is a twin of the parable of the neighbor in need (Luke 11:5-8). Both are used to illustrate the importance of persistence in prayer. Both present a person in need persistently pressing a request, and both parables call for reasoning from the lesser to the greater: If a neighbor or an unjust judge will respond to the urgent need and repeated request, then will not God also respond? It is an argument from lesser to the greater by which Jesus affirms the faithfulness of God – He will assuredly act on behalf of the righteous. Continue reading

Other thoughts about the context

This Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Cycle C. Earlier today we considered the larger textual placement of this parable in the flow of Luke’s writing, noting that there is an apocalyptic tone skipped over in the Sunday sequence of gospels, that lends a tone and content to the parable of the unjust judge/persistent widow. Now, we’ll continue to explore the context of the gospel reading. (note: two posts just to break up the long introductory material… interesting, but still long) Continue reading

Context and the In-Between

This Sunday is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Cycle C. The gospel is the well known Lucan parable of the persistent widow encountering the dishonest judge. We do not arrive at this gospel directly from the gospel of last week telling of the 10 lepers who were cured and the one who returned to give thanks to Jesus. There is a portion of Luke’s gospel that is passed over in the Ordinary Time sequence – Luke 17:20-37.  You can find the reading here. Continue reading

The last Civil War widow

At the bedside of an actively dying person with their family and friends gathered in the room, one of the points I often make is the share the stories of their loved ones life. The stories that make you laugh, long, love, roll-your-eyes and all the ones in between. There is wisdom and wonder if the stories told. And everyone has a lifetime of stories that should not be lost.

Today I ran across one of those stories. And so I share with you an article by Jim Slatter of the Associated Press on the passing of the last Civil War widow.

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Prayer and the long defeat

In the epic novel The Lord of the Rings, the elves of Lothlorien admit that they are losing their forest lands. But they battle on. The describe their struggle as “fighting the long defeat.” This is source of the comment made by Paul Farmer, who has fought a “losing battle” for health care for the poor. In Tracy Kidder’s biography of Farmer called Mountains Beyond Mountains, Farmer says, “I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing… I actually think sometimes we may win… So, you fight the long defeat.”

Reminds me of the persistent widow. Continue reading