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Author Topic: Luke 18: Persistent Widow, a "good" thing?  (Read 2553 times)
Alan
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piggysiggy
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« on: July 08, 2010, 07:36:07 AM »

This is a copy of a post I made today at CA, in the Holy Scripture section.

Quote from: Luke 18:1-8
Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said,  "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being.  And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'  For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"

The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them?  I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

I've often been bothered by the conclusions that many draw from this passage.  I've never heard it described any other way than a passage that tells us we should be persistent in our prayers.

To me, that seems to ignore the punch line, which I consider placed so as to be the "moral" of the story.  That punch line, in this edition, starts with a big "but."  To me, it seems like God is saying, "if you nag me enough, you'll get what you want but you haven't displayed any faith."

In the Douay-Rheims version, it's:
Quote from: Luke 18:8b, DRV)
But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?

It reminds me of the apostles crying out "Lord, save us!  We're going to drown!" and Jesus saying, "O ye of little faith..."  Here we have the widow crying out, and God says something like that IMO.

How am I wrong?  I'm probably "out of line" on this, but how?  If I am wrong, then what is the meaning of the punch line of this story?

Alan
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Joy
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 09:19:15 AM »

Hi Alan,

I posted this at CA in response to you.

This morning, Joyce Meyer had an excellent teaching on "persistent faith." She is all over the airwaves at many times during the day, so I highly recommend listening to the message if you can. She spoke about the persistence of Elijah, who after three years of drought resulting in famine over the land, he received word that God would send rain.

Now it's pretty hard to believe that after that length of drought, one could expect rain, yes? Even though he was a prophet of God, and had God's assurance of rain, he had to send his servant seven times to look for a cloud, and when he reported that there was a very small one, it still took a huge stretch of faith to assume that this tiny thing could be productive of rain.

My feeling is that when we have God's word and promise, it is not so much our reliance on OUR PRAYER, that brings the result, but FAITH in the promise of God, despite the evidence to the contrary. I have been thinking heavily about the message Joyce gave us today. Very much anointed by the Spirit, and similar to your examples, Alan.

Quote:
Kings 3:17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite said to Ahab, As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food."
13: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.' "

[In spite of severe famine, the Lord provided food until the famine was over, which is a separate example of profound faith.]

18:1 1 After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land." 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
Now the famine was severe in Samaria.
41 And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 "Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
"There is nothing there," he said.

Seven times Elijah said, "Go back."
44 The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea."
So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.' "
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 
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ncjohn
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 12:52:18 PM »

I agree that this is a difficult to reconcile passage that I mostly find out of character. It may well be that I'm just missing the point but considering other passages where we are instructed not to pray by multiplying our words because the Father knows what we need before we ask it just doesn't add up for me.

I've not listened to the  Joyce Meyer stuff so I don't know how she addresses things but my prayer tends to go a completely different direction than this. It's more along the line of "make me a channel of your peace" to the extent I just want to know how I can be a positive influence in whatever the Plan is. I don't tend to pray for specific things to happen for specific people but rather that I might have the words or actions to help them in whatever God is doing in and through them. I don't pray for my grandson to be healed from his cerebral palsy but that we might see the blessing that he is and help him be the person God means him to be.

I see a disconnect between the way I might act and the way I believe I'm called to pray, with my actions hopefully reflecting what I feel God is asking of me rather than me praying for God to agree with what I am doing or thinking about doing. Most of us don't get to hear God's voice directly like Elijah so we don't have the benefit of knowing what God is promising in specific instances.

For example, I have become quite outspoken regarding the Church's sexual abuse problems, to the point of writing letters and articles calling on the Church to come clean and do right by the victims. I continue to do so because I am hurt by the Church's lack of faith in "circling the wagons" to protect itself and the hierarchy rather than fulfill its mission of protecting the most vulnerable of God's sheep. I don't pray for God to solve the problem but for the courage and the right words to speak to the hearts of those who CAN solve the problem and those who have been wounded. The only persistence involved is my daily prayer for the strength and the courage to keep at it and the wisdom to know when to stop or when not to speak.

As to the little tag line at the end, I never have understood what it has to do with the passage or what we are to do with it.

John
 
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This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 04:52:54 PM »

Quote from: john
I see a disconnect between the way I might act and the way I believe I'm called to pray, with my actions hopefully reflecting what I feel God is asking of me rather than me praying for God to agree with what I am doing or thinking about doing. Most of us don't get to hear God's voice directly like Elijah so we don't have the benefit of knowing what God is promising in specific instances.

I understand.  I'm thinking about Abram, who at 75 years old was given the promise that God would make a great nation of him, and appeared to him four other times to reaffirm the promise. Believing he misunderstood God, Abraham took his slave girl since many years had passed and still no answer to the promise.  It is utterly difficult to wait, and we are no different than he.  I don't understand why God's time is delayed, but unless we have received a definite "no" from God, through a sense of closed door or block in our prayer, I trust we are to persevere and trust that He is saying "wait."

John, there's nothing wrong with the way you pray, in fact, it is the very essence of Mary's prayer at Cana, "Do whatever He tells you."  Resignation and abandonment to His Divine Will are always pleasing to God, yes?  It would be great if we could just have a clear revelation to know for certain how to pray in any given circumstance, but we are humble servants, doing our best to play our role in our mystery of life. 
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Joy
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2010, 06:03:14 AM »

Alan, your silence is deafening, both here and there.   Bye.
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ncjohn
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2010, 09:56:51 AM »

It would be great if we could just have a clear revelation to know for certain how to pray in any given circumstance, but we are humble servants, doing our best to play our role in our mystery of life. 

Heck, it would be nice if we even had a clear indication of a right way to go sometimes. There are way too many situations where there seem to be competing "goods" and way too many situations where it's hard to discern any good choice. I know I've joked about it before but there are times I wish God would just throw up a billboard that says "John, go this way." I'm personally not too bad about second guessing myself once I decide what I'm going to do but I know that many (maybe most?) people tend to look back under uncertain circumstances and worry about whether they did the right thing. And if something catastrophic happens there is then that tendency to play the "if only I had...." game.

John
 
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
Alan
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2010, 10:34:46 AM »

As the role unfolds, I've found myself looking back at times.  Once I listened to some tapes by a guy who preached emotional self-control.  He explained how to look at things in the past in a different way than I've ever heard before.  There was a long and wonderful explanation, but the gist was to change, "what just happened is horrible, I can't stand it, and it shouldn't have happened," into, "what just happened is 4% bad, I can stand it, and it had to have happened."

The reason it "had to have happened" is because it did!  Cool

BTW, I'm about half way through watching yesterday's Joyce show.  I might watch the rest and today's since today is part 2.

Alan
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2010, 06:48:47 PM »

quote: ncjohn
Heck, it would be nice if we even had a clear indication of a right way to go sometimes. There are way too many situations where there seem to be competing "goods" and way too many situations where it's hard to discern any good choice. I know I've joked about it before but there are times I wish God would just throw up a billboard that says "John, go this way." I'm personally not too bad about second guessing myself once I decide what I'm going to do but I know that many (maybe most?) people tend to look back under uncertain circumstances and worry about whether they did the right thing. And if something catastrophic happens there is then that tendency to play the "if only I had...." game.

I've thought, for decades, that the east has something to offer here.

It's called 'wu-wei.'  Actionless action.

That would translate - in Western terminology - as disinterested action,
in the sense that one takes certain steps, and then steps back.

In the east, it is said that such 'actionless action' does not stir things up,
because one acts and then steps back - not even referring, in the mind, to the action taken.

If the self-referential arises in the mind, as to action taken, this self-reference is to be treated
as a simple phenomenon to be observed and then stepped back from.
Wu-wei means 'uncarved block.' Actionless action.
Therein is inner peace derived, according to eastern sages.

Surely those of faith have more profound reasons to practice that which the east calls wu-wei.

'Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing,
God never changes."

-Teresa of Avila


reen

 
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ncjohn
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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2010, 08:55:27 PM »

That sounds like an incredibly enlightened way of looking at things, Reen. I am on very rare occasions able to do something and walk away but even my ability to not much second guess myself doesn't approach that kind of detachment.

It does occur to me though that if one becomes that dispassionate that all those things from which we take great joy might also be lost. Does that idea get addressed in this thinking?
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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