“The Unjust Judge and the Importunate Widow,” by John Everett Millais (1829-1896), print from wood engraving, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Columnist Lauren Garcia urges us to act like the persistent widow described in Christ’s parable (Lk 18:1-8) in contacting our state legislators about legislation that matters to us. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/PUBLIC DOMAIN


LAUREN GARCIA: We are all the persistent widow

January not only marks the beginning of a new calendar year, but the beginning of a new session of the Nebraska Legislature. Over the next five months, state legislators will introduce bills, hold public hearings, and debate and ultimately pass some new legislation.

State senators will work for hours and hours serving the people of Nebraska in our state Capitol, which bears a notable inscription of the wise words from Hartley Burr Alexander, “The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.”

These words always remind me that while we elect senators to represent us in the making of laws of our government, it is vital that we all exercise our responsibility to make our voices heard about issues that matter to us.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to say to our elected officials or even to know what bills you should know or care about (the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC) can help!). Or you might wonder if anyone will really listen or be moved, which is why I love the parable of the persistent widow (Lk 18:1-8).

Jesus tells his disciples: “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for his people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice from my opponent.’”

After repeated refusal, the judge finally relented, saying, “Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her” (Lk 18:4). This woman changed the mind of a godless judge just because she persevered, knowing that what she was seeking was right.

Although Jesus told this parable to show the power of persistent prayer, I think we can all apply this lesson of perseverance to advocacy.

We are all called to advocate for justice and witness to goodness and truth. This means defending the weakest among us and working to build a more just and loving society. While we can each do this in our families and communities, it is also important to contact your elected officials about policies and issues that will greatly impact the culture in which we live.

If someone as lowly and seemingly uninfluential as a poor widow was able to move the unjust judge, imagine the influence you can have as a faithful citizen, leader and constituent. Sometimes all elected officials need is a reminder from those who elected them, an encouragement that they are doing the right thing, or a personal story that makes a huge impact on their decisions. As we have seen time and time again, even just one vote can make all the difference in passing lifesaving legislation.

As we begin this new legislative session, take this opportunity to look for ways to get more involved in the lawmaking process. Find out who your state senator is at nebraskalegislature.gov, add their office phone number to your contacts for when you need to get in touch with them, and remember to pray for them regularly. You can also keep up to date on the work of the NCC and get action alerts on important bills by joining our network at necatholic.org.

Jesus tells us in the parable of the persistent widow that if she could move the unjust judge, “will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7). It is easy to get discouraged in a world that does not know God, but we are encouraged to always pray and not lose heart in the face of adversity or contradiction.

Likewise, along with prayer, let us raise our voices like the persistent widow, trusting that a faithful Father is on our side. And together we can bear the light of Christ in the public square.

Lauren Garcia is communications and outreach specialist for the Nebraska Catholic Conference. Contact her at lgarcia@necatholic.org.

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