Monday, June 21, 2010

Flavor of Retreat

Retreat ended with all of us so touched by Konrad's wisdom and sharings. He was just great. Here is a short excerpt from his marvelous reflection on the corrupt judge and the insistent widow who won't leave him alone. (Luke 18: 1-5). This loses quite a bit without his delivery, as that was a great part of the lectio, but he taught us so much by modeling depth and creativity and freedom in his scripture reflections. I heard 80-year-old sisters say that they had never in their lives had the ideas about the parables that he presented. They, and all of us, were just thrilled with this year's retreat.

"We, often, almost by instinct, project the widow as an old woman, and put ourselves in her shoes. We’re the cheated ones, demanding just treatment. We often pray like that, demanding our supposed rights from God, when ultimately prayer is acknowledging we have no rights, that we rely on God’s mercy, and we cast ourselves on God’s generosity, entrusting our heart and lives to God alone.

A second reading of the parable reveals that it’s not quite right to assign God the role of the judge, as one 'who neither feared God nor respected any human being.' So what if we turn the tables and assign the role of widow to God? It doesn’t surprise us that Jesus would tell a story about prayer using God as a corrupt, uncaring, insensitive judge. Jesus often surprises us. But might he also speak about God as the widow: poor, unprotected, patient, faithful even in the face of our rudeness?

The story turns everything upside down. God is after us! God is always after us, has been throughout history, never relenting, always finding new ways to wake us up. If the judge is the type of those who are powerful and care neither for God or human values, then God is the widow.

God is in the powerless, those looking for justice. God is on the side of the poor, those crying out for justice and not getting it, from the world’s systems and political and social structures. If God is the widow, then God has a claim on us. What is God’s right? That we recognize our responsibility toward the widow. God is a widow with no viable means of support, and her rights are not protected. God calls us constantly to care for the least among us if we are to be faithful to the covenant.

The prophets speak on behalf of the helpless, and now God himself speaks on their behalf. Prayer has a great deal to do with whether or not others are getting justice and attention and dignity. God pleas for dignity and we are the judge, with the authority to respond or not."