We usually think of persistence, especially persistence in prayer, as a virtue. To be sure, today’s Gospel passage presents us with four men who persisted in their desire to bring a paralytic to Jesus. They are positive role models for us.
However, we have another example of persistence in the reading from the First Book of Kings. The people persisted in their desire to have a king. They wanted to be like their neighbors. So they nagged Samuel and persuaded him to anoint someone king of Israel. It didn’t turn out so well for them. Although there are examples of good kings of Israel, most of them tended to give in to corruption. Rather than remembering that they were God’s representatives and charged with ruling in God’s stead, they gave into the pressures of a corrupt society. Their persistence is certainly not to be imitated.
In what are we to persist? Surely we should persist in prayer. I would suggest, however, that such persistence should lead us to a prayer that listens to God rather than constantly asking for what we want. We tend to forget that God knows better than we do that which we really need. Our persistence should also be evident in our life of service to others, much the same as the four men in the Gospel. Persist in doing good things to and for others, in being kind to others, in random acts of charity. This is the kind of persistence to which we should aspire.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator