THEME: Persistent Prayer and the Persistent Widow.

BY: Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.



In our gospel reading for today (Luke 18:1–8), Jesus Christ narrates the parable of the persistent widow and the dishonest and ungodly judge. The reasoning behind the parable is that if a corrupt judge can deliver a just decision to a helpless and hopeless widow because of her persistence, how much more will our just, honest, and loving God hear and respond to our prayers? “I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily,” Jesus declares (Luke 18:8). The message is to stay true to God, to keep praying without getting tired of it, and not to worry that we’ll wear God out with our prayers.

In today’s parable, the hero is a woman and a widow. She was able to overcome all of her obstacles, especially those related to her gender, marital status, and economic situation, that would have ordinarily prevented her at the time from receiving a fair ruling from the dishonest and godless judge because she was tenacious.

Obviously, her situation would have been different if she had been a man, if her husband had been alive or had an adult son, and if she had been wealthy. With her wealth, she could even bribe the corrupt and shameless judge and get a fair ruling without any difficulty, as was typical at the time, or her adult son would advocate for her.

In the ancient world of the Bible, widowhood was a tough time for a woman, especially when combined with a diminished ability to meet financial needs, which was a common situation in the ancient patriarchal society. As a result, it is not strange that in both the Old and New Testaments, widows are often the focus of miracles.

Following the death of her husband, a widow’s best hope for security would be her son’s ability to provide for her. The loss of a son was thus a double tragedy for a widow. So, most of the miracles in the Bible that involve widows have to do with saving or bringing back the widow’s sons so that the family can at least stay alive (1 Kings 17:17–24; 2 Kings 4:1–7; and Luke 7:11–17).

This persistent widow in our parable represents all the oppressed, the poorest of the poor, the most vulnerable, the helpless, and especially the hopeless. It is not surprising that she went to the dishonest judge countless times, demanding, “Render a just decision for me against my adversary” (Luke 18:3). So, Jesus uses this helpless and hopeless widow to teach us faithfulness and persistence in prayer, especially when it seems that all security, assurance, and hope are gone.

This judge, despite his reputation for being fearless and shameless, eventually delivered a just decision for this widow because she would not relent in her demand for justice, and he feared she would come and strike him. In contrast, Jesus says that God is faithful, honest, just, and true to his words. As a result, when we pray, “I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily,” Jesus declares (Luke 18:8).

Moreover, God “hears” all our prayers because he understands what we say to him because he is God. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere) and omnipotent (all powerful). Though it sometimes appears that God delays in answering our prayers. However, it should not lead one to think that God is indifferent or insensitive. Nevertheless, our prayers may be hindered or delayed for some reason.

If you don’t honor and respect your spouse. 1 Peter 3:7, says: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Our sins can hinder our prayers. As a result, the Catholic Church begins most of her liturgical celebrations, especially the Holy Mass, with an act of contrition. Isaiah (59:1-2) declares, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

Additionally, during the Mass, before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, the liturgy allows us the opportunity to reconcile with one another through the exchanging of the sign of peace, as unforgiveness toward others may hinder God from answering our prayers. Mark 11:25 states, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also, who is in heaven, may forgive you your trespasses.”

However, when we have done all the right things we need to do for our prayers not to be hindered and it appears that God is taking a long time to answer our prayers, it is an opportunity to learn patience and perseverance. Our faith grows at this time; we learn to trust that God has our best interests at heart; and he prepares us to accept his decision for us, as prayer is not a means of manipulating God, but rather a means of preparing our mind and heart to accept his will for us. Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

The Church asks us to look around and listen to the “widows” who are looking for a fair hearing and justice and grant them a just decision. She wants us to remember that God is not indifferent or deaf to our prayers. Despite the fact that he may seem to be late, he listens to us. Let us understand today that our sin, especially unforgiveness toward our neighbor, can hinder God from answering our prayers. It is also a day to remember that prayer is not a way to manipulate God, but rather a way to prepare ourselves to accept God’s will for us. Have a fantastic Sunday.

Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
October 16, 2022

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