Thursday, October 17, 2013

Do we still believe in justice?

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
October 20, 2013

Luke 18:1-8

Luke narrates a brief parable, mentioning that Jesus told it to explain to his disciples "how they had to pray always without becoming weary." This subject is very dear to the evangelist who repeats the same idea on various occasions. Naturally, the parable has almost always been read as an invitation to tend to the perseverance of our prayer to God.

However, if we observe the content of the tale and the conclusion of Jesus himself, we see that the key to the parable is the thirst for justice. The expression "doing justice" is repeated four times. More than a model of prayer, the widow in the story is an admirable example of the fight for justice in the midst of a corrupt society that abuses the weakest.

The first person of the parable is a judge who "neither fears God nor cares about human beings." He's the exact embodiment of the corruption that the prophets repeatedly denounced -- the powerful don't fear God's justice, nor do they respect the dignity and rights of the poor. They aren't isolated cases. The prophets denounced the judicial system in Israel and the sexist structure of that patriarchal society.

The second person is a defenseless widow in an unjust society. On the one hand, she is suffering the abuses of an "adversary" more powerful than her. On the other, she's the victim of a judge who couldn't care less about her or her suffering. That's how millions of women have lived in every time and most places.

At the end of the parable, Jesus doesn't talk about prayer. First of all, he asks for trust in God's justice: "Will not God do justice for his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?". These chosen ones are not "the members of the Church" but the poor everywhere who cry out, asking for justice. Theirs is the Kingdom of God.

Then Jesus asks a question that's a challenge for his disciples: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" He's not thinking of faith as doctrinal adherence, but the faith that inspires the actions of the widow, a model of outrage, active resistance, and the courage to demand justice from the corrupt.

Is this the faith and prayer of satisfied Christians in well-off societies? Surely J.B. Metz is right when he complains that in Christian spirituality there are too many canticles and too few cries of indignation, too much complacency and too little nostalgia for a more humane world, too much consolation and too little hunger for justice.

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