God is Faithful

I grew up under the shadow of my older brother, to whom everything in life seems to come easily. In high school, he was an honor student, varsity athlete, and one of the “popular” kids. As an adult, Ken has seamlessly moved up the ladder of success in the field of finance. He has the perfect home and,in photographs at least, three perfect children, all of whom are moving easily into the careers of their choice.
Then there has been my life. I can’t complain, overall, God blessed me with a wonderful life. But none of it has come as easily for me as it has for Ken. I wasn’t a star athlete in high school, wasn’t one of the popular kids, and although I am now advanced in my chosen vocation, none of it has come without a lot of twists and turns in the road. As for our daughters, yes, their career paths are beginning to unfold before them, but not without a lot of advance struggle. I can’t tell you how many times Maureen has asked why our lives never go as smoothly as other people’s lives seem to go.  
To this I have yet to find the answer, however, what I have realized is, despite all the bumps in life that we have encountered, persistence,or in my case, sometimes just plain stubbornness, has always won out. 
This is why I appreciate this morning’s Gospel. In it we heard the parable of the widow who nags an unrighteous judge for justice. Like many of the parables we have heard these past weeks, this one also leaves us scratching our heads and wondering what the point of the story is. The first thing that pops out at us is the fact we have yet another story about a widow. A woman, who without a husband or adult son, had no rights, and no ability to own property. A woman, who in her day had no voice and no say in the governance of her life. So right away we know something odd is going on. The judge, who we perceive as cold and almost cruel, had no reason to hear her case because from the perspective of ancient law, this widow was a nobody, a non-person. But for some reason, this woman was not wiling to accept her lot in life. She refused to allow an unjust system to treat her unjustly. So she refused to give up on her plight. She refused to be invisible and without a voice before the court of law. Instead, she persisted in pleading her case day in and day out, until finally, out of annoyance, the judge granted her her day in court.
But what does this tell us about our relationship with God? From the human perspective, it tells me that God is like my father was with my younger brother Kevin. Kevin learned at a young age, if he really wanted something, even after Dad said no, all you had to do was nag at him and eventually he would give. Somehow I am not sure the message Jesus was trying to convey was for us to nag God in order to get what we want. My suspicion is, the true message has little to do with the widow’s nagging, but that divine justice prevailed in the end.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught his people that the arc of justice is long. In terms of Civil Rights this meant while civil rights may not occur in a day, it may not even occur in his or their life time, but someday, through ongoing persistence towards that end on our part civil rights for all people would be part of this great country. In the mean time he taught his supporters to trust that God will prevail.
This is the message which rings true with my understanding of who God is. It is the message which tells us to wait patiently on the Lord, and to trust. The message from this morning’s Gospel goes hand in hand with our reading from the Book of Jeremiah. Last week we heard Jeremiah tell the Children of Israel what must have been a most painful message to hear. That
It was a call to accept their plight and to settle down in Babylon for they would not see the restoration of Israel in their lifetime and possibly not even in their children’s lifetime as well. This morning’s message from Jeremiah is different. Instead of telling Israel to put down roots, he assures them that the time will come when Israel will return to her lands…when a new covenant will be made between Israel and God. When that day would come the prophet does not say as Israel is left to wait in confidence for God to act. An action that did not come for several generations.
“How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself for ever?,” the Psalmist cries. “How long, O Lord,” we cry as we wait and pray the Lord will act. The promise of salvation lays before us, the promise of the Kingdom we continue to seek and long for, the promise that seems to be slipping away as we feel the world will come crashing down around us. How long, O Lord, must we wait? To this, not even the prophets can answer, instead we must wait in the darkness and trust the Lord that the time will come.  
Waiting is hard, especially for us who are not used to waiting. . .who are able to access almost anything the heart desires literally with the click of a button. . .who are often taught to live in the moment and not in the future. How can we be expected to trust,or to be as St. Paul instructs Timothy, “to be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable?”  
Yes, it is hard to wait patiently for the Lord, especially when life’s hardships get in the way and suddenly God seems so far away. The good news is, we ordinary Christians are not alone in our struggle, in our lack of patience with God. History tells us, even those who we consider the superlatives of Christian faith, the Saints, struggle with God. St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila and yes even St. Theresa of Calcutta, formerly known as Mother Theresa, struggled with faith and wondered if God was listening.
In some circles, those times, when it feels as if God is no longer listening, or feels absent from our lives is referred to as the dark night. Mother Theresa, in her letters a papers gives testimony to her own dark night, when despite her constant prayer and service to the poor of Calcutta, she could not feel the presence of God. Her biographer writes that her period of darkness lasted from 1948 until shortly before her death in 1997. In the book Mother Teresa, Come be my Light, Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk hypothesizes the reason for Mother Teresa experience of such a prolonged period of darkness as a result of her immersion in the suffering of the poor. Whatever the reason for her darkness Mother Teresa was persistence in faith, was persistent in prayer making her a modern day widow nagging at the judges door trusting the Kingdom would come one day to the people she loved. 
Waiting for the Lord is hard, trusting that God is truly there and listening is even harder. Yet, as this morning’s parable tells us, for those of us who are persistent, eventually God will provide that for which we wait, that for which we hope for, that for which we long for. . . justice. . . for God is faithful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s