2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
Our readings today are permeated with the theme of perseverance. As long as Moses is able, with the help of Aaron and Hur, to keep his hands held high, the Israelite troops, led by Joshua, were able to gain victory. This was a team or community effort at perseverance. We could reflect on this dimension alone and find a great deal of richness and wisdom.
St. Paul commends Timothy for his faithful perseverance going all the way back to his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. From his infancy he was given the foundation of Holy Scriptures to stand on. Paul challenges Timothy to "be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
In our Gospel parable Jesus teaches us the power of persistence. The widow wore down the judge and finally got him to render a just decision in her favor.
Our inner psyche is often full of urges, quick and undigested ideas and plans. Sometimes our feelings are off the wall. In this state we can come to God and jabber away asking Him all kinds of things. God will, thankfully, not rush to answer our requests. We need time for things to settle down and come to see more clearly just what it is we really want God to do for us. Perseverance is a virtue that keeps us before God while the inner sorting out is take place within us.
The virtue of fidelity is a type of perseverance. It keeps a couple together, giving them time to figure out what this relationship of marriage is all about. Many marriages end when they should not because the couple are following their present urges, hurt feelings and lack of deep understanding of their partner.
Today, we speak of soaking prayer. God often wants us to soak our needs, day after day, in his healing and merciful love. He does not want us to just run up and ask for something and then leave the response totally up to God. If we come back day after day and soak our intention in his healing love again and again, the chances are we not only deeply understand our need but we are ready to prove our trust in God by this long range soaking approach.
Many years ago, when I was a novice, we were swimming, as a class, in the Neosho River in southeast Kansas. One of my classmates, very dependant on his glasses, lost them in the water. There was a frantic search for them that lasted about two minutes then everyone gave up the search and went about their swimming business. I continued the search, trying to calculate the direction and force of the current. With about ten more minutes of searching, I found the glasses. My classmate was delighted that I did not give up but continued to look for his lost glasses. Perseverance has it own rewards.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.