Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalms 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
After my son was born, a good friend of mine created wood carvings with Scriptural verses on them for each one of my children. He simply requested that I would choose one Scripture passage each for Ava, Noel, and Andrew. The verse that I chose for my oldest daughter, Ava, was that of the second reading today, from Saint Paul to Timothy; “Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the Sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The reason I selected this particular verse for Ava is simple; she is the oldest and as such, is extremely stubborn AND thinks she knows it all (the only reason I can tell you this without her killing me is that she is 8 and has no desire to read what Mommy writes or says!) Ava always has the answer, and if she doesn’t, she makes it up. She is, however, a natural born leader. She can get her way simply by nagging you, to death. She will not stop until you hear her side of an argument, and she will not give up arguing until you admit that she actually has a point! In other words, she is exactly what Paul tells us all Christians should be: persistent. In fact, if all 3 readings from this weekend could be summed up in one word, it would be persistence!
Persistence: The quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people.
Paul tells us, “Be persistent whether it is convenient OR inconvenient.” What a challenge! Unfortunately, many of us are not as willful as Miss Ava Sampey, and lack the ability to be truly persistent. When faced with any adversity, too often we give up! Being persistent is difficult for many reasons. For one, most of us, including myself, are chronic people pleasers. We simply want everyone to get along. There have been so many times when I feel very passionate about something, but cannot express it to my friends and family because I do not want to offend them! Fortunately, as of late the Holy Spirit HAS given me the ability to be persistent when it comes to the truth of who Jesus Christ is and calls us to be. Although MANY times it is EXTREMELY inconvenient for me to do so, I can honestly say I do NOT care who I offend when speaking about the love of Jesus Christ! I fully realize this is NOT MY work, but the work of the Holy Spirit living and speaking through me. So how can we continue to develop persistence as followers of Jesus?
How to develop Persistence as Disciples:
We must have a definite purpose: What is our purpose as disciples? To bring others to Jesus Christ! When we talk about purpose, another word comes to mind: desire. Our purpose must be backed up by a burning desire for its fulfillment. We simply cannot stop being a witness because it is “too hard.” Our hearts must literally be on fire for the Lord!
We must have a definite plan expressed in continuous action. In the faith community in which I serve, we have a plan. It can be seen in our vision: Our vision is, “To lead all whose lives we touch into a living relationship with the person of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, service and fellowship.” What is continuous about it? Well, we have announced it at every Mass for the past 3 years. We are extremely persistent and intentional in repeating our vision over and over AND over again, until ALL are utterly sick of hearing it and will hopefully, GO DO IT!
We must have a mind closed tightly against negative and discouraging influences. There will always be “naysayers.” People love to have something to complain or gossip about. Either they just don’t “get it,” or they are not ready to accept the fact that we MUST have a living relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. However, WE must remain steadfast and KNOW that our plan is in line with God’s will! If we are following the will of God, we must stop allowing negative forces to affect the work.
We must have a friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage us to follow through with both plan and purpose. There are so many days we ALL just want to give up. No one is listening. No one cares. At times I feel as though some would be extremely content with simply being “pew warmers,” so why even bother? But our community is meant to also inspire us, so I encourage you to find great inspiration in the countless numbers of parishioners in this Diocese who live for Jesus Christ and firmly believe in the work we are doing here!
If only ALL of us could have a little more “Ava” inside! Think of what we could accomplish! I want to challenge you to be persistent for Christ. Never stop desiring to bring others to Him! May the Holy Spirit start a fire in our soul that will never be extinguished.
Christ’s peace and our Mother Mary’s love,
Mary Sampey, Director of Evangelization, Our Lady, Queen of the Yough Catholic Community