Ver 1. And he spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;2. Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:3. And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.4. And he would not for a while: but afterwards he said within himself; Though I fear not God, nor regard man;5. Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.6. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said.7. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them?8. I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?
THEOPHYL. Our Lord having spoken of the trials and dangers which were coming, adds immediately afterward their remedy, namely, constant and earnest prayer.
CHRYS. He who has redeemed you, has shown you what He would have you do. He would have you be instant in prayer, He would have you ponder in your heart the blessings you are praying for, He would have you ask and receive what His goodness is longing to impart. He never refuses His blessings to them that pray, but rather stirs men up by His mercy not to faint in praying. Gladly accept the Lord’s encouragement: be willing to do what He commands, not to do what He forbids. Lastly, consider what a blessed privilege is granted you, to talk with God in your prayers, and make known to Him all your wants, while He though not in words, yet by His mercy, answers you, for He despises not petitions, He tires not but when you are silent.
BEDE; We should say that he is always praying, and faints not, who never fails to pray at the canonical hours. Or all things which the righteous man does and says towards God, are to be counted as praying.
AUG. Our Lord utters His parables, either for the sake of the comparison, as in the instance of the creditor, who when forgiving his two debtors all that they owed him was most loved by him who owed him most; or on account of the contrast, from which he draws his conclusion; as, for example, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith. So also here when he brings forward the case of the unjust judge.
THEOPHYL. We may observe, that irreverence towards man is a token of a greater degree of wickedness. For as many as fear not God, yet are restrained by their shame before men, are so far the less sinful; but when a man becomes reckless also of other men, the burden of his sins is greatly increased. It follows, And there was a widow in that city.
AUG. The widow may be said to resemble the Church, which appears desolate until the Lord shall come, who now secretly watches over her. But in the following words, And she came to him, saying, Avenge me, &c. we are told the reason why the elect of God pray that they may be avenged; which we find also said of the martyrs in the Revelations of St. John, though at the same time we are very plainly reminded to pray for our enemies and persecutors. This avenging of the righteous then we must understand to be, that the wicked may perish. And they perish in two ways, either by conversion to righteousness, or by punishment having lost the opportunity of conversion. Although, if all men were converted to God, there would still remain the devil to be condemned at the end of the world. And since the righteous are longing for this end to come, they are not unreasonably said to desire vengeance.
CYRIL; Or else; Whenever men inflict injury upon us, we must then think it a noble thing to be forgetful of the evil; but when they offend against the glory of God by taking up arms against the ministers of God’s ordinance, we then approach God imploring His help, and loudly rebuking them who impugn His glory.
AUG. If then with the most unjust judge, the perseverance of the suppliant at length prevailed even to the fulfillment of her desire, how much more confident ought they to feel who cease not to pray to God, the Fountain of justice and mercy?And so it follows. And the Lord said, Hear what, &c.
THEOPHYL. As if He said, If perseverance could melt a judge defiled with every sin, how much more shall our prayers incline to mercy God the Father of all mercies! But some have given a more subtle meaning to the parable, saying, that the widow is a soul that has put off the old man, (that is, the devil,) who is her adversary, because she approaches God, the righteous Judge, who neither fears (because He is God alone) nor regards man, for with God there is no respect of persons. Upon the widow then, or soul ever supplicating Him against the devil, God shows mercy, and is softened by her importunity.
After having taught us that we must in the last days resort to prayer because of the dangers that are coming, our Lord adds, Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?
AUG. Our Lord speaks this of perfect faith, which is seldom found on earth. See how full the Church of God is; were there no faith, who would enter it? Were there perfect faith, who would not move mountains?
BEDE; When the Almighty Creator shall appear in the form of the Son of man, so scarce will the elect be, that not so much the cries of the faithful as the torpor of the others will hasten the world’s fall. Our Lord speaks then as it were doubtfully, not that He really is in doubt, but to reprove us; just as we sometimes, in a matter of certainty, might use the words of doubt, as, for instance, in chiding a servant, “Remember, am I not your master?”
AUG. Our Lord adds this to show, that when faith fails, prayer dies. In order to pray then, we must have faith, and that our faith fail not, we must pray. Faith pours forth prayer, and the pouring forth of the heart in prayer gives steadfastness to faith.