The Holy Gospel: October 20, 2013 (Year C)

Read: Luke 18:1-8

Meditation: “Spoiled Chilren”

Jesus’ question at the end of today’s lesson used to strike me as disconnected from the parable.  But one day, I realized it was precisely the question to ask.

The parable of the importunate widow was Jesus’ way of teaching by contrast.  If a reluctant judge could finally be persuaded to act on the widow’s behalf, how much more will God (who is ready and willing to respond) act on our behalf when we pray.  That’s the point of the parable.

The concluding question connects in this way: God’s benevolence should increase our faith, but it can also magnify our selfishness.  Instead of the gratitude which true faith produces, we can develop a “what have you done for me lately” attitude.

And that’s what spoiled children do.  All previous parental kindnesses are forgotten when a single “No” is spoken by a mother or father.  Perspective is lost under the pressure of “give me…get me.”  All that matters is immediate gratification.  God is only as good as His latest gift.

And…that’s not faith.  It’s just egotism expressed through prayer.  So, Jesus asks exactly the right question–when the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth, or merely spiritual selfishness?  Will he find saints or spoiled children?

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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