Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Just Decision

November 13, 2010
Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, virgin

Beloved, you are faithful in all you do for the brothers, especially for strangers; they have testified to your love before the church. Please help them in a way worthy of God to continue their journey. 3 John 5-6

“There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’”Luke 18:2-5

Father, give us the poor widow’s persistence to call out to you night and day. Jesus, may our prayers reach your ears that you can bring our petitions to God who will answer them swiftly. Holy Spirit, bring us the justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude to live faithfully keeping the commandments until those prayers are answered. Amen.

Within one liturgical year, the Church has many options to choose for the daily readings. Today is another when the same reading used recently (Sunday, October 17) in the Gospel is repeated in a short time frame. What lesson is there in the story of the persistent widow (or the story of the dishonest judge) which needs such repetition?

Perhaps the goal was that one time when this was read we might focus on the persistence needed in our prayer life. Maybe the second time we hear it we will focus on the attitude of the judge and consider how we treat each other. The third time we hear it, we will reflect upon how two people with such differences can live together in the same place. Or, as option D lists on the SAT, “all of the above.”

Then, I opened today’s newspaper to read that Myanmar’s military government freed its archrival, democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on Saturday after her latest term of detention expired.

Suu Kyi is a Nobel Prize winner. If there is anyone who is living the life-lessons of the persistent widow in our day, perhaps she exemplifies the quest for truth and freedom and democracy more than any other. Nelson Mandela did the same and his struggle against apartheid was successful – but only after he spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island.

This time, Suu Kyi was detained for seven and a half years. But she has been in jail or under house arrest for 15 of the past 21 years.

Hers has been and is a difficult life in this country ruled by the military since 1962. Her father was murdered when she was only two years old. In 1988, she helped to start an opposition political party which won a general election in 1990 but the ruling military refused to turn over power. Just last week, a puppet government was elected by the junta in the first election held in twenty years.

Suu Kyi could have left her homeland after being released from prison the first time. However, she feared that she would not be allowed back to help the people and nation she loves.

Perhaps news of her freedom will give hope to Liu Xiaobo, a fellow Nobel laureate and co-worker for the truth, who remains in prison in China.

What is there in your prayer and in your life with which you would be so persistent in seeking?