`Render a just decision for me against my adversary’.
This is what the widow in today’s Gospel parable asks of the unjust judge. How many of the `widows` of today, the excluded from everything, the made poor of Haiti, Ecuador, Democratic Republic of the Congo, USA, Southern Africa, Syria, Eritrea and other countries too numerous to mention, are asking for just that? Each day we encounter, or see on the news, people who have been excluded from all decision making about their lives and future, people who have no food, no water, none or only poor schools for their children, no jobs, no electricity, no roads. The road blockages, the protests, the violence in Haiti, and in other parts, are all a result of centuries of exploitation and abuse by those in power, `who neither fear God nor respect any human being’. There comes a time, as for the widow, when enough is enough and action must be taken. Very often the only action possible `is to take to the streets’, to immobilize the city, to close down the banks – for now, as in the Gospel account, the `unjust judge’ refuses to see, to listen to their cry. Maybe, just maybe, `because they keep bothering him/her’ the unjust judge will answer.
What about the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon, the climate change advocates. Will their voice be heard at the Pan-Amazon Synod? Surely, they are asking for a `just decision` about the future of this eco-system, of their communities and of the church. What about the plea for votes for women at this synod, for women deacons and priests? Are we not insisting enough? Is that what Luke wishes to teach us in this extract from his Gospel?
Is this not a strange Gospel for Mission Sunday?
On this day, we are encouraged to ask what Mission means for us as individuals, community, parish, people? Pope Francis in his letter says,
`This missionary mandate touches us personally: I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission. People in love never stand still: they are drawn out of themselves; they are attracted and attract others in turn; they give themselves to others and build relationships that are life-giving’ (Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World ).Traditionally, mission was associated with a ‘salt water’ journey. Today we know that to be on mission we do not need to cross the oceans. Firstly we need to journey inward. It’s there we are challenged to confront our attitudes and our prejudices regarding those different from us, regarding injustices, suffering etc. The genuine journey within spills over into actions, which might include walking with and accompanying the `widows’ as they demand justice of the ‘unjust judge’.
We are companions on this journey, we too need to be like Aaron and Hur, lifting up and supporting the `widows’ of today. Likewise, we ourselves need to be supported in community and in like-minded groups. Persistence in prayer and proclaiming the message, `welcome or unwelcome’, are essential elements of mission. Surely then, God will `secure the rights of the chosen ones who call on God night and day’.
Jesus has the final word `I tell you God will see to it that justice is done…`
Rose Kelly rjm and Bridget O`Driscoll op,
Jean Rabel, Northwest Haiti.