Luke 18:1-8

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The parable of the mouthy widow and the recalcitrant judge is a great story that embodies many of the characteristics of Jesus' parables. It is truly provocative and funny. It invitesthose who hear it to think about the kingdom of God and about prayer.

The story is introduced by Luke as a parable that Jesus told to people about their need toalways pray and not to lose heart. The protagonist is a judge who neither feared God nor had any respect for people. He was utterly cynical. He was a typical first century judge simply doing his job in order to make money. It was often the case that judges in the ancient world were corrupt as is also true in the modern world.

The other character in the story is a mouthy widow. She was neither passive nor whining. She was demanding. The way in which her words are to be told is with a firm, forceful tone. The clear storyline is that she was constantly approaching the judge over and over again and bugging him.

The first episode, then, introduces the characters and establishes the context: are calcitrant judge, a demanding and mouthy widow. The next episode is about the judge and his decision. "For a while he refused." This is an opportunity to portray the judge in his cynicism, his gruffness, his hostility, and his determination to do nothing. While telling, you might cross your arms over your chest in a gesture of stubborn defiance. It is an opportunity to act and sound like a mule that is simply refusing to move.

The second part of the episode describes the internal dialogue of this cynical judge: "Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice so that she won't wear me out by her continual coming." This needs to be told as a cynical, gruff, hostile judge who is deciding to give the widow her due because she keeps bothering him.

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