Here is another parable in which a lesson is taught by way of exaggeration.
The metaphor is that of an unjust judge, a man who is a law unto himself, who can not be prevailed upon to act rightly, who acts only in his own self-interest.
A widow – always the symbol of the poor and defenceless in the ancient world – wants justice done for her against a powerful adversary. How will she get it, except by pleading and pestering the judge?
Day in and day out, she importunes him for justice until, quite fed up, he grants her what she desires. Her begging has won him over.
The parable is meant as a teaching on prayer. Persistent and unremitting prayer, says Jesus, makes even God sit up and take notice.
‘Unanswered prayer’ is a common complaint among the devout. All of us feel that God is slow to answer our heartfelt needs. Why does God delay? Is it out of a merciful patience, giving the wicked time to change? Is it to allow the disciples to purify their own petitions and increase their dedication?
One answer surely is that prayer is not a transaction, it is a relationship.
If it is a relationship, then the more it is sustained, the more it reveals depths in the one who prays, in what is prayed for, and in the knowledge of God whom we pray to. All the relationships we cherish and value have an element of mystery, and prayer is no exception.