Today, we celebrate the Sunday of the Judge, reflect on the parable about the helpless widow and heartless judge who refused to hear and help her. Eventually, the unjust and unmerciful judge gets tired of the widow’s pleas and decides to help her. Our Lord himself interprets the parable as a symbol and reminder about the importance of unceasing prayer. But today, we will take a very different approach and turn to an unlikely character to help us discover another spiritual dimension and layer of this beautiful story.
Tom King is the talented author behind the Batman comic books. What I find remarkable about his writing is how he integrates spirituality and faith in the story and character of Batman. At the beginning of the story in Black and White volume 2, “The Unjust Judge,” we see Batman rushing to the rescue of children trapped in a burning orphanage. The old priest of the orphanage carries the children out of the burning building to safety. He manages to save most of them. But when he returns to the burning building for one last attempt to find and rescue the rest of the children, he collapses, exhausted, powerless and unable to breathe because of the thick toxic fumes. Batman finds and saves the rest of the kids and returns to find the priest and move him out before the building collapses. But soon, he realizes that there is nothing he can do. It is too late. The priest is hurt and completely powerless. The feeling of helplessness torments Batman. He is the Superhero who is supposed to be there to help and save, yet he can’t do anything to help this old and kind man. The priest urges Batman to leave him. And this is when in their short but touching dialog, we see the priest and Batman recalling the parable of the Unjust Judge. Batman sees himself as the merciless and uncompassionate judge who did not help the suffering widow. But the priest dismisses this notion, telling him that by sitting next to him, holding his hand and sharing his pain, Batman already helped him.
As Christians, we are called to live and practice a faith that rejects indifference to suffering. We are rather called to continue the healing ministry of our Lord by actively engaging with the pain around us. We are called to preach and proclaim the love of the Lord through our compassion, mercy and love towards the helpless, the ignored, the marginalized, the poor and the sick. I have no doubt that every Christian realizes this and desires to do so. But often, we are discouraged, thinking that what we have to offer and what we can do is not enough to make a real difference. This is utterly wrong. We don’t realize that we don’t need superpowers to rescue the suffering souls out of danger and harm to safety. What they really need is someone to notice their suffering, relate to them, listen to them patiently and with love, someone to hold their hand and share their pain. By simply being present in their lives and struggles, we initiate their healing by empowering and enabling them and allowing the Lord to enter their lives and restore them to life and hope by his healing touch.