The Parable of the Unjust Judge,
Painting by Pieter de Grebber (1600-1652),
Painted in 1628,
Oil on panel
© Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

The Parable of the Unjust Judge,
Painting by Pieter de Grebber (1600-1652),
Painted in 1628,
Oil on panel
© Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest

Gospel of 18 November 2023

The parable of the unjust judge

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

Reflection on the painting

Even though today's reading is often named the Parable of the Unjust Judge, it really is the woman who is at the centre of the story… and of today's painting.

In our reading, we are told how a judge was repeatedly approached by a poor widow who was seeking justice. Initially rejecting her demands, he eventually honoured her request. In our painting by Dutch artist Pieter de Grebber, we witness the moment after the judge has given in to her and given judgment in her favour. As she is a widow, we see her skilfully painted with a black veil. But she has a white dress underneath, a symbol of hope, or in this case resilience. Her request was granted and her life is about to change. The judge is pointing at his law books. She is holding a book, closed: her legal matter is closed….

The temptation to lose heart is always with us. As people of faith we can be tempted in this way during what often seems like difficult days for the church in the West. According to our Gospel reading today, it was that temptation of believers to lose heart that Jesus had in mind when he spoke his parable. Here was a woman who had steadfast faith and Jesus puts her before us as a model of persevering faith in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles. God’s faithfulness is not in question. The question mark is over our own faithfulness. According to Luke Jesus spoke this parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. The primary way we keep faithful when times are difficult is indeed through prayer.

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Jamie Cardinal
Jamie Cardinal(@jamie2023)
18 days ago

I haven’t seen Chazbo…….I assume he is with his family travelling…….
I remember I recently commented to him about what the English should be proud of……

well lets hear it for Victorian stoicism and the British concept of the stiff upper lip.
( although I suppose we should remember we can still be strong even if we admit to others when we are weak!)

William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)


Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.

Noelle Clemens
Noelle Clemens(@jeanne)
18 days ago

Just look at the pile of books under the judge’s open one! He’s been down every avenue to satisfy the widow’s search for justice, and seems to be begging her to accept his ideas for a resolution to her case. There is indeed an air of obstinacy about her, with the upside-down book under her folded hands. She is masterfully painted, shame about the rather spare drape, top left.
My reading is that God will act: but He will both delay, if He sees fit, and answer speedily, and both in the name of justice! To accept this we have to exercise considerable faith, hence Jesus’ question – will we last the course, till the Son of Man returns? We need to keep pleading/praying, while keeping in mind – “shall not the judge of all the earth do right?”
I love “that blasted wasp”, Anthony. We know how persistent they can be!

19 days ago

I have just remembered that the priest involved with St. Catherine Labore, and her persistence regarding Our Lady’s requests, referred to her as; “that blasted wasp!”

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