Nevertheless, She Persisted.
“And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'”
I received a number of wonderful gifts for my ordination, and among them was a desk name sign. It’s pink with white lettering, and it says “Nevertheless She Persisted.”
That phrase became an anthem for women’s equality in 2017. Senator Elizabeth Warren, arguing that the nominee for Attorney General should withdraw his nomination, read a letter from Coretta Scott King regarding the record of Jeff Sessions in to the congressional record. It was asserted immediately that she was violating a rule that prohitbits senators from ascribing “to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.” In defending the need to silence her, Mitch McConnell, expressed his outrage by noting that even though she had been told to cease, “nevertheless she persisted.”
There’s something so perfect in that three word phrase. The nerve of her! It was a hatch-tag ready motto for the affront of outspoken women. Pushy women. Aggressive women. And they’re even in the Bible, these misbehaving gals! This Sunday, here she comes round again. The widow who will not be cease and desist; who yet again demands justice for her unidentified complaint.
There are great tensions at play in being the person who speaks up. I think of Greta Thunberg, and the many people who maligned her on social media during a recent visit to the US. It can be life threatening, as we saw in the case of Malala Yousafzai. Still, we live in an era of outspoken women, particularly younger women. Greta and Malala. Emma Gonzalez. Marley Dias. Autumn Peltier. All of whom follow other strong female voices. Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and ancestors too numerous to list.
In our age, there remains a tension between an expectation that people of both genders will fight for justice and that they will maintain some degree of cordiality while they do it. Being assertive quickly can be seen as becoming agressive. There’s a parallel in living our discipleship. I don’t know about you, but despite appearances to the contrary, I hate rocking the boat. I regret upsetting people and try to avoid it. So what is it, exactly, that we are to learn from this persistent widow? What is Jesus telling us about justice? About prayer? About the nature of God?
We’ll dive into those questions and more this Sunday, when we come together to sing, to pray, and to share the meal that he gave us. Mass is at 11 a.m. at 7117 Washington Ave. South.
In gratitude for your companionship on this journey,
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
cháris Χάρις khar’ece