Today’s parable is meant for people like us – people who grow weary of trying to do good and are tempted to give up on praying. How often have we had the experience of asking and are convinced we are not being heard? How often have we knocked til are knuckles were bare and no door was opened? How often have we searched and never found? How often have we asked ourselves,’ what’s the use, is anyone there?
How often do we read reports of people demanding an inquest into the cause of someone’s suspicious death, or a suspected misuse of influence by a politician and they get stone walled by those in authority? But, like the widow in our gospel they will not go away, they pester and cajole and finally get what they want?
I read somewhere that the word for widow in Hebrew means, silent one, and a voiceless person. But this widow certainly had a voice, she would not be silent. Every time this widow made her appeal for justice it was in a public gathering – an open court – she would be heard. For all his boasting and bluster the judge was aware of public opinion, he was concerned about his public image and it was probably public opinion that made him give in. For his own sake he had to get this voiceless woman off his back.
So often when it comes to praying we have our own needs in mind. We may be praying for our health, our family, our security, our peace of mind. As a parish family we pray every Sunday that we may live this Mass outside these walls. We do this when we make the concerns of others, civic and public concerns our own. We live this Mass outside these walls when we make ourselves aware of the issues of the blight of our first nations peoples living on the reserves, the homeless men, women and children of our city, the children of this city who go to school hungry, the many desperate young men and women who can’t find work, for all their education. And we make these concerns the object of our prayers. In so many ways these good people are the widows of our time – the voiceless. In so many ways they tend to lose heart, give up. They lack the stamina of the widow. We not only pray for these good people we try to stand with them and work to change public opinion. We can support movements such as Occupy Toronto or Idle No More or pro-life movements or the Peace Now movement. In whatever way we can we try to give voice to the voiceless. We can let our city counsellors know, our parliamentarians know that we seek justice for the have-nots of our society.
The widow of the gospel challenges all of us to give voice to our brothers and sisters who have lost heart.
We have a wonderful example of someone who would be heard in that young Pakistani high school student, Malala Yousafrai, who defied the Taliban order to put an end to the education of young girls. They tried to silence her by shooting her and their act of violence gave her a worldwide platform from which to plea her cause. She is voiceless no more.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we ask for the courage and the stamina of our gospel widow. Like her may we never lose heart but keep on praying and working for justice and fairness for all, especially for those who have no voice to speak for themselves.