We are urged not to lose heart, to pray continually! This forms the introductory line of these verses, with ‘will he find faith on earth?’ its final sentence. This suggests there is a connection, as one would expect, between losing heart, and faith on earth. Whatever faith Jesus may well be referring to, is the opposite of losing heart!
A key word in the parable which follows is ‘justice’ or ‘righteousness’. Which is the focus of the verses which follow, 9-14; the parable of the tax collector and Pharisee. Luke may well have placed these verses together so the one explains the other. A cry to God, and God effected God’s righteousness/ justice, to the petitioner (7 & 14). Is this the prayer Jesus suggests we should be conscious of all the time: God be merciful to me, a sinner? Jesus affirms God’s readiness to grant justice. In this God is the very opposite to the reluctant judge. We need not loose heart, worrying that God will ignore our plea.
We of course repeat that sentiment whenever we pray the Lord’s prayer, Forgive us our sins… except of course Jesus has added a line, ‘as we forgive those who sin against us’. We are called to live mercifully, (the key component of God’s justice) reflecting the mercy, justice, we have received, and continue to receive, ourselves from God.
Some recent scholars have suggested that we can also think of God as the widow in vv 1-8. God beseeching humanity collectively, and us individually, grant justice, mercy to each other. God does not let up! This cry of God we echo in that petition within the Lord’s prayer! We answer God in our acts of mercy extended to others.
This might well be the faith Jesus is hopes will pervade the earth; the faith which knows God grants us justice through mercy, so we act likewise.
Louis van Laar