Posted on Oct 24, 2019

20 OCTOBER 2019

Without her husband, a woman in most ancient cultures had no voice,

had no rights, had no defender, was powerless.

So, for Jesus to use a widow as the central character in this story is quite a turnabout.

What do widows have to teach us?

What do the poor have to teach us?

Several years ago I was visiting Tom Krieg in Chicago at Mundelein Seminary.

Tom is now ordained and is a pastor in Eau Claire.

Tom decided we should go to his all-time favorite restaurant–The Modol.

It’s Indian.  Tom is quite a character–I didn’t know what to expect.

We also had a student along with us.

The Modol looked like ptomaine heaven, and was in one of the “worst” sections of Chicago.

Walking to it I was sure we would get mugged.  We looked very out of place.

There were lots of young men, just laying on sidewalks

–out of it, angry, done in at the young age of 21.

I expected the student who was with us to be pretty turned off by it all,

probably to be a little arrogant.

What I didn’t expect was what he said when we finally got seated in this restaurant:

“I think this has been one of the most important days of my life,” he said.

I was shocked.  “Why?”

“Because all I can think of is that line ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’”

Three things:

1) In many ways that was something of an arrogant response by that student.

To use the poor, the left-out, as a ruler against which to judge our lives

–even if it leaves us grateful–robs them of

Of the dignity they do have–at least before God, if not in our eyes.

Having said that, they did have something to teach my young friend.

More than he probably realized that day.

2) The widow in the story is persistent.  That’s usually not a characteristic we associate                                        with the powerless.  They are the ones, we keep thinking, who have given up.

Sometimes I think the fact they are still alive suggests they are much stronger than                                   I could ever be.  And in the context of the story Jesus tells, they are stronger because                             they understand how much of this world can be whisked away from them without                                    a moment’s notice.  Such women and men know this world counts for nothing.

3)  Finally, there is that troubling phrase at the end: “When the Son of Man returns

will he find any faith on the earth?”

Why would he say such a thing?

Why would he say such a thing to us?