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Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom


Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Text:
Luke 18.1-8: "Justice at Last - Persistence Wins the Day"

Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
Sharing Together:

When have you ever felt unfairly – or unjustly – treated, or unable to get a fair hearing? What were you able to do about it? How did you come to terms with the situation?

A Window on the Text

In many parts of the world justice systems are a sham, with the judiciary under the control of the state or a dictatorial ruler. Often the only way to get (or avoid) ‘justice’ is through having ‘contacts’ in the system, or by bribing police, prosecutors or judges. In 2006 in Russia, for example, Anna Politkovskaya - a well respected journalist investigating human rights abuses in Chechniya - was shot dead near her flat. Despite the continuing persistent efforts of her friends and family, four years later the official investigation has led nowhere, and the likelihood is that there will never be a satisfactory outcome.

Jesus uses his story as an example of the difficulty facing ordinary people, having neither money nor influence, to get justice through an uncaring legal system. This was especially true for women (and even more so for widows) who counted for little in Palestinian society.

We don’t know why the judge refused to deal with her case, but probably because she was a ‘nobody’, and there was nothing in it for him. He just could not be bothered. However, she was not to be put off, and pestered him day after day until the row threatened to become public: the only way he can shut her up is to sort it out, and give her the justice she demands. Jesus urges his disciples to persevere in actively seeking justice through persistent prayer, with complete confidence in God’s commitment to the poor and the downtrodden, the unlovely and the unloved.

This is a gospel imperative! Jesus is the liberator from injustice and oppression (see Isaiah 42.1-4; Luke 4.18-19). It requires faith to believe that in Jesus the Kingdom of God has already begun in the world - but there is a long way to go before its full realisation.

Jesus leaves us with the question, ‘When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?’ He seems to be saying, ‘Hold fast to the vision and do whatever you can; never give up seeking justice, and praying for it, and believing that in the end God’s Will will be done, on earth as it is in heaven'.
Responding as a community
  • Do you know of any individuals or groups who have no voice, who cannot obtain justice through the legal system in this country or abroad?

  • What does your church know about the abuse of judicial power in the world, or prisoners of conscience, etc? Get up-to-date information from agencies such as Amnesty International (www.amnesty.org.uk), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (www.csw.org.uk), CAFOD, etc, and decide how to increase local awareness and what can be done to help.
Praying Together

Light a candle. The Lord is here: His Spirit is with us.

Read: Luke 4.18-21

  • We remember before God those who are brave enough to stand up for justice and to speak out for those who have no voice; and those who suffer imprisonment and repression for taking such a stand.
  • Silence

Your Kingdom come: R: your will be done on earth as in heaven

Light a small candle. Pray for those who suffer injustice in the world through corrupt judiciaries and governments.

Your Kingdom come: R: your will be done on earth as in heaven

Pray for organisations which help those suffering injustice in the world. Name such organisations, and light a small candle for each.

Your Kingdom come: R: your will be done on earth as in heaven

Name other people we know of in similar situations. Light a small candle for each one.

Your Kingdom come: R: your will be done on earth as in heaven

The Lord’s Prayer

The Grace.
Going Deeper
  1. Read: Isaiah 42.1-6, (Isaiah 61.1-3), Luke 3.21ff, Luke 4.18-20.

    Jesus is the one who fulfils Israel’s hopes and comes as the Davidic Messiah, the anointed one, above all the one who is to bring justice and liberation to the world.

    At his baptism he is publicly designated and affirmed as the Spirit-anointed servant of Isaiah 42.1-6. In Luke 4.18 ff Jesus announces that he is fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61.1-3 and announces what sums up the manifesto of the Kingdom of God: the good news of the end of oppression and liberation for all.

    Do you admire anyone for their persistence in the face of injustice (eg South Africa’s Nelson Mandela or Burma’s Aung San Su Kyi)?

    Find out more about how they each dealt with their situations.

 

 


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