“Render me a just decision” (Luke 18:3).
Luke is often identified as the evangelist for women, and today’s gospel reading gives us a good example of his sensitive support for women’s issues.
In Jesus’ day, judges were enormously powerful figures who could rule on both religious and civil disputes. A corrupt judge was a scourge upon the society and a disgrace before God and the people he was supposed to serve. In the parable Jesus tells, the judge was haughty, biased, and unjust, serving his own interests and the needs of those he favored while disregarding the rights of the poor.
You could not be poorer or more vulnerable than a widow, lacking wealth or family, husband or son to represent your cause. Yet, because of her persistence, this widow wore down the unjust judge until she got her ruling.
The parable has two purposes: Jesus uses her example to urge anyone discouraged by life’s injustices to persist in prayer. After all, God, the ultimate judge, unlike the corrupt judge in the story, was eager to help the most vulnerable. But we should not miss the scathing attack on a corrupt legal system or his rebuke of the hypocrisy of religious leaders,
Jesus was on a collision course with power that would cost him his life. He goes to the cross for defending the poor, widows and orphans, outcasts and sinners. And women. The women he knew responded to his defense of their rights and dignity by being the ones who stood by him at the cross. He blessed them in return by making them the first witnesses to his resurrection.
Jesus stands with women today against anyone who would insult, abuse or threaten them. Their endurance, persistence and prayer will not go unanswered by the God Jesus revealed. That God, beyond male or female, is both Father and Mother to all of us, but especially to those the world has exploited and discounted. We are invited to pray for justice, and to persist against every obstacle or prejudice until those who oppress others are exposed and overthrown.