Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respsect for people. In that city was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, 'Grant me justice against my opponent.' For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, 'Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'" And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?'"
Usually, when Jesus tells a parable, we are left to suss out the meaning of it for ourselves. Here, on a rare occasion, we are given the meaning of the parable right at the start! According to Luke, this parable is about the "need to pray always and not to lose heart."
In the current context of the United States, the idea of sending "thoughts and prayers" after a tragedy has become so rote as to be almost a farce. Nobody cares about thoughts and prayers anymore because as far as we can tell, they aren't changing anything. A mass shooting occurs and politicians send thoughts and prayers when we want (and need) is sensible gun reform and real action. Today's parable would remind us that we should keep heart anyway, keep praying anyway, for God will respond.
However, I think there is another point to this story that we can take to heart. This is sometimes referred to as the parable of the "persistent widow." This widow appeals to the judge consistently, continuously for justice until he finally grants it to her not because he has had a change of heart or has decided to start doing the right thing, but because he simply doesn't want to be bothered anymore. Perhaps this is the lesson we should take from this story and apply to our current judges and politicians.
If we cannot get those in charge to change their ways, to grant justice because it is the right thing to do - well, perhaps we can simply annoy them into it. We can keep up our protests, our tweets, our viral stories, our grassroots campaigns until we are so annoying in our cry for justice that they will do the right thing just so they can get a moment of peace.
God will respond to our persistent prayers, yes. But so will the unjust judges. Let us pester our way to peace and justice, following in the footsteps of this persistent widow.
God of peace and justice, let us persist in our cry for things to be different, for things to get better. Help us to never lose heart at the seeming futility of change. Grant us the strength to annoy people into bringing about the kingdom of God. Amen.