I take the theme of Endurance from the readings today. (The epic endurance of the Israelites in the wilderness, from the first reading.) St. Paul says in the epistle ‘suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us’.
The Gospel for today is an account of the endurance necessary of a disciple who sets out to proclaim the good news.
The question that pops into my mind is this. If the Good News is really Good News then why is there so much resistance to it?
Good news, by its very definition ought to be welcomed by all; the disciple is warned to expect resistance and indeed persecution. Towards the end of the Gospel, Jesus says ‘the one who endures to the end will be saved’. So endurance is a trait necessary for the Christian character.
I remember my uncle Aiden who in his 40’s had serious back problems and was in a wheel chair for years; he described his situation as character building. I was impressed by that. He eventually got back on his feet. His endurance got him back on his feet. What I learned from that is everything that happens to us is an opportunity towards our own character building. Every difficulty we encounter and indeed every crisis that comes our way is an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. Accompanying every difficulty and crisis is the temptation that a we are alone and indeed been abandoned by God. A cloud descends upon us and we can see not good way out.
It is in the midst of this cloud that we pray the greatest prayer of humility, that we admit that we are powerless in this situation and hand ourselves into the power of God. We literally throw ourselves at the feet of God. We pray a prayer of abandonment. We admit our own powerlessness. Anyone who has endured a serious addiction will know what I am talking about. As Paul said in the reading from Romans: suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us’.
A quote I find helpful says ‘lost is also a place to be’. Every life situation is an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. We can always ask the question ‘what do I need to learn from this situation?’
Every life situation finds a reference in the Scriptures. There is nothing new under the sun; we don’t need to re-invent the wheel. The wisdom of the ages is contained in the Good News. The Good News is good news because it is good news. ‘The one who endures to the end will be saved and important book on the subject of endurance is ‘Man’s search for meaning’ – by Victor Frankl, written of his experiences in the concentration camps. His big insight ‘he who has a why to live for can bear almost any how’.
You may download this reflection here.