The Persistent Widow

Belonging.  I am of the personality type where belonging is one of my highest values, maybe the highest one.  And, you know, belonging to the church is the best kind of belonging there is.  It’s pretty remarkable.  We’re here together doing something powerful.  We’re in this mystical relationship with one another, with God at the center.  We’re the body of Christ.
We’re the body of the part of God that was sent into the world to be a bridge, a rescue, a model.  To take on human form so that humans can find the way to union with God. What we do is simple enough that anybody can join in.  But it is beyond being named.  It speaks to our souls – to that in us which is bigger than words.
There is something in us that knows this without having to be told, something that makes us profoundly restless, as St. Augustine says, until we find our rest in God. I think it is Christ alive in our hearts, sometimes whispering, sometimes nudging – always pushing, pushing, pushing – restless – until we find our relationship with God, one another, and the needy world.  Christ in our hearts is the persistent widow from today’s Gospel story.
In today’s story, the widow, a woman without any political clout at all, moves an indifferent judge to do right by her.  She’s a thorn in his side, a squeaky wheel.  She bugs him and bugs him and bugs him.  And finally, just to get rid of her, he gives her justice.
It is the persistence of our hearts, bugging us, making us restless, that brings us to church – to this mystical place where we belong to one another.  It is the persistence of our hearts that turns us away from concerns of money, property, status – and turns us toward the ever-present, lush and abundant realm of God.  The persistent widow is Christ alive in our hearts.
Without that haranguing widow nattering on in our souls we probably wouldn’t come to church.  We wouldn’t throw on clothes and drive over.  We wouldn’t set up our computers and sit for an hour with one another on Zoom.  We sure wouldn’t stay for fellowship or adult formation!!
And we would be dead.  We would be dry husks blowing about in a directionless wind.
Without the persistent widow in our hearts, we probably wouldn’t be moved to help others.  We wouldn’t be advocates for the disenfranchised when we ourselves are privileged.  But, truth be told, we really are restless until we find our rest in God.  Until everyone experiences the rich abundance of the kingdom of heaven, we are not going to be entirely happy.
We need one another.  We need this church where we can learn and grow in knowledge and understanding of who God is.  We need communion.  We need the profound belonging of being the Body of Christ.
We need to be the welcome to all peoples, the invitation to the realm of God which embraces all religions and spiritual practices.  We need to stand in solidarity with all those on a spiritual journey.  Our souls know it.  They will bring us into communion with one another.  And from this right relationship will flow an abundant and steadfast peace, the Peace of God.
Photo by Matthew Spiteri
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