On a daily basis the concerns and fears of those who call St Joseph their spiritual home are troubling. The assurance of God’s ever faithfulness and care for His people is a constant message that is proclaimed to our people. This week God’s word encourages us that in the face of division and injustice we need not loose heart. God has not left us to fight our battles alone, but rather He is present and always listening to our needs and prayers.
God’s word speaks to us of the power of prayer and our need to remain persistant in coming before the throne of grace and placing the needs, pains and fears of the hurting, the lost and forsaken before God. In the midst of all that we face as a church, a community and a nation prayer is the key and strength to not only endure but to prevail and see the power of God bring about justice in our time. There is power in prayer, and we see that through persistent and tenacious prayer has the ability to break through injustice, division and every difficulty we may be facing. So often we wonder whether God hears us and cares about what we are going through. The sacred scriptures direct us to a deep understanding that God not only cares but is able and willing to act on our behalf to do justice.
Let’s get to it! In Exodus 17 the people have been wondering in the desert and became thirsty, they quarreled and grumbled, and God told Moses to strike the rock. Upon doing so water comes forth for the people, “The place was named Massah and Meribah,* because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”
A war breaks out and Amalek wages a battle against the people of Israel. When Moses hands are raised in an Orans prayer position, hands held aloft, the people of Israel win in the battle. However, when Moses became tired Amalek would win, so Aron and Hur physically hold Moses hands in prayer and Israel moves down Amalek’s army. This pairs with the persistent widow who comes against a judge to demand he do justice in her favor, namely decide on her behalf. The widow is one of a God’s Anawim, special because of her poverty and vulnerability. The judge gives her justice. Like her we too are called to be persistent in prayer before God.
We find ourselves just one week away from our Annual Assembly as we will discern as a F.A.S.T justice ministry what will our focus be. Clearly our continued efforts for affordable housing and the expansion of the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion program for minor traffic offenses continues, misdemeanors for no violent, non-serious offenses. Today’s scriptures provide a concrete context from which we can be encouraged for justice ministry. To stand with those on the peripheries and be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. The persistent woman is an example to us how we are to be both persistent in prayer and being called to be persistent in seeking justice. The removal of driving privileges cripples the citizen because they cannot get to work to make the money needed to pay the fines. This crippling is a continued cycle of injustice and impoverishment, and it impacts disproportionately African American and Hispanic members of our community and the poor.
Although we have a State Attorney closed to the expansion of the program even as other counties around us find creative ways to further do justice, we too must be persistent. We pray for Mr Bartlett’s conversion and to be open simply to listening to the best practices offered by his colleagues and work for justice. In our seeking justice how often do we pray for those who are in opposition to doing what is right. Even as we see other counties broadening their program our State Attorney Bartlett refuses to even listen to the possibility of an answer to this problem. Sharing best practices is a good way to listen and learn. Let’s pray for the conversion of heart as the widow remained persistent with the unjust judge.