Catholic Faith Corner

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Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Perseverance Pays Off for Us and Jesus

Recently a video on Facebook showed a little girl about six-years-old trying to jump onto a green stool almost her height. She falls to the floor over and over again, but never stops trying. Finally her dad stands behind her, holds her shoulders, and says something to her we can’t hear. I thought he was going to lift her onto the chair. But no. He disappears. The girl gives one mighty leap and stands on top of the stool, triumphant. What a lesson in perseverance!  Better than Aesop’s fable of the hare and the tortoise. It made me think of times I persevered…and times I didn’t. For example, sometimes when I start a crossword puzzle, many of the clues stump me, and I think, I can’t do this one. But as I tackle it, little by little the grid is filled in, sometimes without even cheating! But then there are the times I tried to learn Spanish and quit. Even now the books and tapes are gathering dust.

Working at our spiritual like takes perseverance. We have to keep renewing our attempts to break a bad habit like saying “Oh, God” or worse. We have to repeat our resolutions to do good, such as exercising every day, being patient with people who irritate us, or resisting unhealthy food. When we are engaged in a difficult task, we may grow weary or frustrated and be tempted to “throw in the towel.” We can rationalize, “I don’t have to do this” or “Let someone else do this.” But then we never experience the joy of the little girl who conquered the stool.

As young nuns we were told to pray for the grace of perseverance. This summer will mark my 50th jubilee, fifty years since first vows. (I think the three novitiate years before the reforms of Vatican II were implemented should also count. They were comparable to marine boot camp!) All of us jubilarians can attest that it was only sheer grace that kept us in the convent.

Jesus knew it would be hard to pray and gives us not one but two parables to encourage us to keep at it: the woman who pesters the judge until he hears her case and the man who knocks at his neighbor’s door at night until he gives him bread.

Speaking of Jesus, he was challenged to persevere. I imagine there were plenty of times when he might have thought, “This race is not worth saving. The hell with them (literally); I’m going back to heaven.” His neighbors and relatives tried to throw him off a cliff. People called him crazy and possessed. His handpicked apostles were slow to understand him. People didn’t trust him or believe his words. Even his miracles were attributed to the devil. The religious leaders criticized him and attacked him.

In the face of torture and ultimately crucifixion, Jesus could have given up. In the Garden of Olives, he could have said, “I’d rather not, Father” instead of “Your will be done.” When he was hanging on the cross and people passing by incluidng the Jewish leaders said, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross,” Jesus could have, but he stayed there suffering.

In a painting of the crucifixion, Salvador Dali placed no nails in the hands and feet of Jesus. Someone explained, “Love kept him there.” Jesus persevered, fortunately for us. Now it’s up to us to persevere in faith until we attain the eternal life he made possible for us. We can also pray for the grace of “final perseverance.”

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