From the Pastor’s desk— March 5, 2023
After humility, what do you think is the most important virtue? What virtue does Jesus and God speak of second most often? It is in our readings this past week and today in the second reading…wait for it, (that is a hint) It is the virtue of persistence. In our readings today God promises great things to Israel in the book of Genesis, Jesus hints at the glory to come in the gospel of Matthew, but it is St Paul, in His letter to Timothy, who advises him and us during Lent (actually all our lives) that we will have to “bear our share of hardships for the gospel.” (II Tim 1L8)
I think these readings ring true with life, there are great things ahead of us, like heaven, but the good things in life do not happen overnight, nor do they happen without some challenges. It was 40 years for Moses to reach the Promised Land, it was hundreds of years until the Messiah came, it was 33 years after Jesus’ birth that He brought salvation to us.
Persistence is the virtue that allows us to be undaunted in the face of delays, challenges, or suffering. Persistence is not losing hope when our needs are not immediately realized. Psychologists have noted in young children, the ability to delay gratification is a future predictor of happiness in life.
More than happiness though, persistence is the heart of us ever having peace or not. Peace does not just come to us at the moment we get what we want, peace is the gift that comes to us when we can accept God’s will and God’s timing. So often we are not at peace because we have given up on our goal after some hardship or another. So often we give up on Lenten or New Year’s resolutions because we ran into some problem or we failed at doing our resolution and gave up saying, “what’s the use?”
Lent is the season of persistence. To persist in rooting out our habitual sins, persistent in trying again to live a more faithful life, and persistent in our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Persistence is also the virtue that turns a repeated action into a habit. There is no agreement how long that will take, numbers range from 18 to 250 days, but what is known is that daily repetition is necessary. Good things don’t happen overnight, easy wins are not the sweetest. The joy of life comes when we win after persisting though hardships.
The success of persistence comes down, I believe, to another virtue and that is compassion. Can I be compassionate with myself when I fail. Can I be compassionate with myself when it takes longer than I thought? If I can show compassion to myself in the process, I am more likely to succeed.
Lent is the season of persistence, because all good things come not just to those who wait but to those who try and try again.
With a heart for Mission,