And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming ….’” Luke 18:1-5 (KJV)
In this season of what may be called a poly-crisis of mounting challenges—from food insecurity, climate change, environmental injustice, racial and gender disparities, polarization within governance, divisions of peoples and groups, and questions about freedoms—the spirit of perseverance can be very challenged.
Still, Mark 3:14 tells us to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The gospel lesson about the widow helps us to understand what this means from a very practical perspective. Her story is a demonstration of powerful perseverance to make her own case for vindication from her adversary.
At the same time, her story begs the question of what really made the judge give in to her plea. Was it only that “she bothered him” and that he was tired of her “continual coming,” or was it something more? The pretext to the parable tells us that, indeed, the parable is really about prayer.
Recently, the Pan African Consultation at the 2023 Advocacy Summit prayerfully engaged this biblical reflection along with our related Latino/a convocation—and the entire gathering for the Summit. Together we convened Bread members and advocates to use their collective voice to engage members of Congress and advocate for policies that address hunger and give struggling families in the United States and around the world a chance at a healthy and prosperous life.
The Pan African Consultation especially lifted the resilience and resolve of Pan African farmers, both nationally and globally. The Consultation created a space for prayer, recalling the narrative of lament and hope in Pan African communities and the lenses of equity, nutrition and sustainability regarding the importance of the farm bill for Pan African communities. The Consultation included an advocacy visit with the first person of African descent to be the Minority Leader in the House of Representative, U.S. Congressman Hakim Jeffries.
The Consultation also joined with the Latino/a convocation for a conversation with Bread board members identified with the two groups. This open space encouraged a better understanding of how Bread is governed and mutual sharing of strategies for advocacy. They also shared their stories with each other and made their prayerful petitions with their congressional leaders with all Advocacy attendees the next day.
Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World.