“Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?”
— Luke 18:7
In the Bible widows represent the most vulnerable members of society. In Jesus’ parable here, the widow is in need because people in power do not care about her need for justice. In terms of our “fish proverb,” she does not need a “fish”; nor does she need to be taught “how to fish.” She is being denied her rights, and she is deprived of an “opportunity to fish.”
We may sometimes imagine that people are poor because of some inadequacy on their part. Maybe we think they don’t work hard enough, or they aren’t sufficiently motivated. But that would probably be a mistake. Most poor people I’ve encountered work harder than I’ve ever worked and are highly motivated. Their poverty is a consequence of injustice. In other words, someone has stolen their “fishing gear” or blocked access to their “fishing pond.” People in such circumstances don’t need a “fish” or a “fishing lesson”; they need justice.
Justice in this sense means empowerment, access, participation in decision making, respect for human rights, and advocacy. Biblical justice is about healing relationships that are broken and twisted, whether they are personal and local, or global and systemic.
God has promised to bring about justice for those who cry out to him. Should we cry out on their behalf?
Dear God, help me to see what justice should look like in my life and community. Make me an instrument of your shalom. Amen.