The power structure in Jesus’ time was uneven, and in fact, stacked against a whole portion of the population. It was a flawed system that favored the rich and harmed the poor and marginalized. As the widow in the parable knew, it was only by perseverance and sheer force of will that she was given justice against her adversary. To borrow a phrase from Alex’s sermon on Sunday, seeking justice had become her life’s work. She was committed to it in a way that any of us would be, when seeking justice for ourselves.
But what are we expected to do when seeking justice for others? What lessons can we find in the season of Lent, and particularly in Holy Week, that can help us understand what is being asked of us?
I think one of the most powerful things any of us can do is pray. We can begin by asking God to open our hearts and minds to the varied experiences of other people. Imagine if you were to humble yourself in front of God and ask God to show you what you need to see. Just as the scales that kept Saul from seeing fell from his eyes, are there scales that cover your eyes? We all see things most comfortably from our own perspective. As I get into my car to drive to work, it’s hard for me to imagine the experience of someone relying on public transportation. As I enjoy a leisurely Saturday afternoon with my family, I don’t think often enough of the parents who are working a second job and to whom a Saturday off would be a financial hardship. As I casually hand the receptionist my health insurance card, what of the mom for whom health insurance is a luxury?
In prayer, we can also ask God to lead us to action. Action can take many forms. It can be listening to a podcast that highlights social justice issues. It can be reading any number of books that aim to open readers’ eyes to the roots and realities of injustice. It can mean serving your community in ways that lead to greater inclusion and equity. It can mean joining a group, such as Stone Catchers here at First Pres, and making time and space for the kind of positive changes that Jesus turned the tables over for.
We can also pray for courage. We might pray for a courageous thought – for nothing has ever happened without the seed of thought. We can pray for a courageous voice – for even the smallest voice in the room can speak powerful words. We can pray for courageous action – for we know our strength comes from our faith in God. We can pray for fortitude – for the revolution of justice for all began on that Palm Sunday over 2000 years ago and continues today.
Friends, there is so much to do. My suggestion of prayer is just the beginning. I don’t pretend to think that “thoughts and prayers” will themselves fix anything. But what I do believe is that they can change us. Through prayer – humble, authentic prayer – we can tap into the justice that Alex described as being in our Christian DNA and urges us to carry on.