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Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: The Quest for Justice

Jesus told his disciples 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 respect for people. In that city there 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 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?”

Luke 18:1–8

This peculiar story of the widow’s astonishing (read: countercultural) behavior is intended, as parables are, to disturb and reveal disruptive truth. It not only says something about how important it is for us to pray without ceasing, it also names what we should be praying for: justice. The widow is so certain of God’s justice that she acts in resolute faithfulness and courage, in anticipation of that certainty. She is anything but passive or powerless, as the ancient stereotype went.

This kind of resolute faithfulness and sheer, dogged persistence, also demonstrated in ordinary and extraordinary women of the Bible and in social justice history — speaks to Christians today of the courage it takes to reject barriers and social norms, in the name of justice and human flourishing. Who among us will persist in the quest for justice? Like the widow pleading her own case before the unjust judge, we must not take no for an answer. It is a matter of faith. It is a matter of trust in God’s goodness — and in our commitment to claiming God’s reign of justice with constancy.

—Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

From Prof. Amy Jill Levine: “The parable forces me to cross-examine my own views.”

From the Rev. Klara Tammany: “Let’s consider the story the way Jung looks at dreams, where everyone in the story says something about us. Let’s for example, flip the analogy and consider the widow as a stand-in for God, with the judge representing us. What then?” 

Let the Taizé chant, O, Lord Hear My Prayer, accompany your prayers today.

Maya Angelou’s powerful manifesto of justice claimed in Still I Rise includes the declaration: “I rise/Into a daybreak that’s wonderfully clear/I rise.”

On the politics and power of persistence in the face of deadly oppression, today’s Gospel passage in light of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

A treasury of Jesuit prayer resources, including apps and audio.

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Coming Soon

Sunday, October 16 | 10am
Discovery: Ordinary and Extraordinary Saints
Join the Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and Trinity’s Theologian-in-Residence as she discusses the spirituality of the Rev. Pauli Murray and how her faith fueled her work for justice.

Sundays, October 23–November 20 | 10am
Discovery: Creation, EarthCare and Environmental Justice
The Bible has a lot to say about our interconnectedness to Creation and stewardship of the earth. Learn more in this series with Summerlee Staten, Executive Director of Trinity’s Faith Formation and Education department, Dr. Ellen Davis of Duke University Divinity School, and eco-philsopher Lyanda Haupt.

Sunday, October 23 | 1–3pm
Trinity Talks: Makoto Fujimura
Makoto Fujimura is a leading contemporary artist who creates process-driven, refractive “slow art.” Author of Art+Faith: A Theology of Making, Fujimura is an arts advocate, speaker, and theologian recognized worldwide as a cultural influencer. He will join the Rev. Phillip Jackson for a conversation about how the act of creativity helps us heal, be in relationship with one another, and build a more just world.