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212. Never Losing Heart (Luke 18:1-8)

October 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, The Better Part

“For he who will reward us on judgment day for our works and alms will even in this life listen mercifully to those who come to him in prayer combined with good works.” – St. Cyprian of Carthage

theBetterPartCoverLuke 18:1-8: Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, I want justice from you against my enemy! For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.’ And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

Christ the Lord  The judge in the parable, although an unworthy fellow, has real authority. He can issue a decision that will have actual repercussions both for the widow and for her adversary. Christ also has real authority – “all authority in heaven and earth,” as a matter of fact (Matthew 28:18). He is able to influence our lives and history, and he has chosen to put this influence at our disposal. Just as the judge would not have given the widow a fair decision if she had not pleaded with him to do so, God also has decided to make his graces depend (at least in part) upon our initiative. “Ask, and it will be given to you,” our Lord pointed out earlier (Luke 11:9); “Search and you will find…” It seems that Christ refuses to be a dictator, but delights in being a generous and responsive King.

Christ the Teacher Jesus is politely telling us that we are weak petitioners. He probably detected impatience behind the Pharisees’ question about when the Kingdom would come, an impatience we too are familiar with. parableoftheunjustjudgeinthegranovitayapalata for the post on Luke 18:1-8We give up too easily; we approach God with less confidence than this determined widow had in approaching a crooked judge. We doubt God. We think that just because he doesn’t answer us in the way we expect him to, he isn’t answering us at all. That shows a lack of faith, a truncated vision of God. No prayer that we utter goes unheard. God is never out of his office; he’s never on vacation. He is longing for us to bombard him with our prayers. He is eagerly searching for hearts that trust him enough to ask him unceasingly for everything they need. He always answers our prayers, even when the answer is “no.”

On judgment day, one of our greatest regrets will be how little we prayed – prayer costs us nothing and can be done anywhere and any time; it’s an investment that simply can’t go wrong, and yet we relegate it to a few minutes here and there. It’s like refusing to turn on the lights because we’re afraid they might not work, or because we have become oddly attached to the dark.

Christ the Friend In Jesus’ last sentence, we detect a tinge of sadness. It is a rhetorical question: when he comes again, will he find any faith? Will he find anyone who recognizes him and is glad to welcome him? He certainly hopes so. He wants to be able to grant us the intense joy of eternal life, but he knows that not everyone will accept the gift, and it pains him.

Jesus: Love is always a risk. I risked it when I came to find you and invite you to follow me in my Kingdom. I knew that in order to offer myself in friendship, I had to become vulnerable; it had to be possible for you to reject me. Look at me hanging from the cross. Look at my side, pierced to my heart with the soldier’s lance. This is what love risks; this is love’s vulnerability. I am willing to take the risk, because I long for your friendship; I long for you to follow me, day after day. If you accept my invitation, you will have nothing to fear. When it comes to friendship with me, the vulnerability only goes in one direction: you may hurt me by preferring your own will and being unfaithful to me, but I will never be unfaithful to you.

Christ in My Life Thank you for the gift of prayer, Lord. Thank you for giving me a share in your work, for not doing it all yourself. Now my life can have eternal repercussions as you want it to. Dear Lord, teach me to use my freedom well. I don’t want to live at the mercy of passing fancies or stock market fluctuations. I want to live grounded in you, grounded in your love and truth…

Teach me to pray, Lord. My faith is so weak. Teach me to pray at all times, to never tire of conversing with you about everything. Help me to develop the habit of lifting my heart and mind to you in the midst of a meeting, a traffic jam, or a chore. Help me to confide in you with all my heart, as you want me to, so that you can work through me to bring many souls into your Kingdom…

I believe in you, Lord. I have put my hopes in you. I love you, though my love is weak and scrawny. If thousands ignore you, I at least want to stay close to you. Guide me, lead me along the path of your wisdom and your peace, and make me a channel of your grace…


PS: This is just one of 303 units of Fr. John’s fantastic book The Better Part. To learn more about The Better Part or to purchase in print, Kindle or iPhone editions, click here. Also, please help us get these resources to people who do not have the funds or ability to acquire them by clicking here.


Art: Parable of the Unjust Judge, artist not listed in the Granovitaya Palata (Palace of Facets [Moscow Kremlin, Russia), 1881-2, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". His most recent books are "Spring Meditations", "Seeking First the Kingdom: 30 Meditations on How to Love God with All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength", and "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions". Fr. John currently splits his time between Michigan (where he continues his writing apostolate and serves as a confessor and spiritual director at the Queen of the Family Retreat Center) and Rome, where he teaches theology at Regina Apostolorum. His online, do-it-yourself retreats are available at, and he answers questions about the spiritual life at

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  • Tessye

    Thank you father for an encouraging post. Funny how not too long ago, I was struggling a lot with doubts, trust and faith in God, I felt it strange as if being hit between the eyes with it…. So then shortly after that, I came upon the readings of Exodus, Joshua and Judges where God longed for the trust of the Israelites, but repeatedly they doubted in Him, even after so many gifts and signs; I felt God speaking to me and I sobbed. I then started consecrating myself (all my struggles, doubts, frustrations ,joy, etc.) each morning to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and then I found myself speaking to God on a more frequent and more personal level, as if she brought me to Him. Although my daily prayers have not changed, but I know God is taking them all. In the past, I never fully understood “consecrating” oneself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, now I see how she takes those offerings from me, gives them to Jesus and replaces them with trust, faith, joy and love. I understand that my human nature will always keep bringing me doubt and other struggles towards God and that I will always need to keep giving them to His mother to take…just as if I was a boat in the ocean with a small hole in the bottom, where the water flowing in are the same as the “struggles”coming in; I no longer have to tire myself bucketing the water out, God’s in control!
    God works in mysterious ways, prior to all this, for awhile I had been praying to have “blind” trust in Him (not that I’m there, but I got detoured in the right direction)…funny how prayers are answered in the least expected way, just as in The Karate Kid,”wax on, wax off” example.
    Thank You God for giving us Your Mother. Amen.

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