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Persistence

Three years ago, I met a man who was visiting our church. It was the weekend just after we had the same Gospel reading (Luke 18:1-8) as today (October 16, 2022). I noticed he seemed a little upset - not in an angry or agitated way, but a little disappointed or frustrated or sad. He was a tall, large man - built like a football player - with thin dark hair and a thin beard, and looked like he was in his late 30's. His wife was a few steps behind him - kind of giving him his space. He approached me while I was in the front entrance of the church and tending to some of our electric (unfortunately) votive candles.


After saying hello, and welcoming him and his wife to the church, he quickly shared something quite personal, noticeably trying to hold back emotions.

He said, "My mom died last year, and every time I think of lighting a candle for her, and go to a church, for some reason I can't. Either the doors are locked, or they don't have candles. Here, all the candles are already lit - and they're not real candles either!"

He then asked me, "Can I ask you a religious question?"

"Sure," I said.

He asked, "What do you think God is trying to tell me?"


My heart broke for the guy. But I was reminded of this week's Gospel in that moment.

So I said to him, "I really don't know - but sometimes God wants us to be persistent, and he uses certain opportunities for us to learn how to be that way".

He nodded, seemed satisfied, and said, "Thank you."

Then I also said, "You know, if you go outside, on the side lawn of the church there is a statue of Mary. We have real votive candles out there today. And I am sure they are not all lit".


About a half hour later, I went outside, and he and his wife were still there by the statue of Mary.


This got me to wondering, this week, why does God want us to be persistent? And how is that relevant in the context of serving others?


Just this past week I came across and read Mother Teresa's acceptance speech for when she won the Nobel Peace Prize. See: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1979/teresa/acceptance-speech/. She said,


"...[L]love to be true has to hurt....[D]on’t forget that there are many children, many children, many men and women who haven’t got what you have.... [R]emember to love them until it hurts".


At first, I wondered why, but then it struck me, looking at the cross, that Jesus loved us until it hurt. That Jesus' love for us is that persistent call to us, inviting us to love him back, to love out neighbor like he does, til it hurts.


In that light, when it comes to serving our neighbors, consider these challenge questions for this week:

What is something you were persistent with God about? How did it turn out?


Has it ever been difficult for you to find, or to take, opportunities to serve the needy around you?


Have you ever been frustrated, when serving others, that their problems do not go away, in spite of all your help?


Why would God want you to learn to be persistent?

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