At first glance, this seems somewhat silly. God is being broadly compared to a judge who finally is badgered into giving an old woman justice. As one of the commentators on this passage points out, we all sort of know this woman – people like her. A person, a man, or a woman who has no family, no friends, no social network of support. A person who is certain they have been wronged and who has no other recourse than to keep showing up and demanding that the situation be put right. And an official who finally get so sick of the complaining, of dodging the person in the doorway day after day that they give up and give in. The perseverance pays off – but it’s not Justice, it’s just exhaustion.
In ancient times, you could hire mourners for funerals so that the Gods and the community would know that the person who had died was worthy of attention – and maybe even of leniency. In the Middle Ages, cathedrals, churches and religious organizations made money on promising to keep praying for a person’s soul – as the soul made its way through Purgatory to Paradise. It was a good deal for the Church – and if this parable is taken seriously, it’s a good deal for the soul that has requested the prayers.
But all of this reduces God to the status of an official who can be manipulated – particularly by someone who has enough power, influence or money to grant special treatment to the deceased or the morally injured. Maybe that’s what we fear is true about God in moments of doubt or fear.
But that’s not what we think about God on our best days. We believe that God is just and loving – and that God cares particularly for the poor and the outcast, not the rich and the powerful.
So, what’s going on here? Once again, the context matters.
The direct link to the video is here.