In these days of instant foods, instant digital photos, instant communication and even instant winners, it can seem obsolete to talk about perseverance. So much of life around us has us moving on the "fast track" and expecting immediate results. Yet, God's creation, including ourselves, gives evidence that much of life is a gradual process. Living, changing, healing, growing, forgiving, loving and all the vital signs of life take time, patience and perseverance. Being patient and persevering amid enduring situations can be some of life's more difficult challenges.
As we look back over the past year, we may want to review our lives and try to identify the times where we had to be patient and persevere in practicing our Christian way of life. In fact, as we come to the close of this year, it would be good to make a review of our lives over the past months. In this gospel, Jesus tells us that following him will not always be easy. People will not always agree with the way Christians are called to behave. The Beatitudes are a summary of the way Jesus asks Christians to act: he asks for simple living, peacemaking, care for others, respect for creation and love of God and neighbor. Jesus adds to this, expect be persecuted and disliked by others because we follow him. Not everyone will “friend” us! In the words of this gospel: "They will seize and persecute you…".
The key word to hear in this gospel is "perseverance." To persevere is to "hold fast" to the Word of God knowing that in time, fruit will come forth. Patience is needed as we persevere and for this, we often need to rely on God's strength to help us persevere and not fall into hostile ways. When difficulties come to us, they can be turned into positive situations for the believer. By our perseverance, we become witnesses to the fullness of Christian life which entails suffering as well as joy. In the early church, Christian witness often meant martyrdom. This act of persevering in one's belief was considered admirable. Early Christians believed that the seed of faith is watered by the blood of the martyrs.
Christian witness continues today with a type of martyrdom that brings death to our impulse to have instant results. When we want to solve dilemmas immediately, or do something to make everything right, especially in relationships, we need to remember that healing takes time. All things of value take time, patience and perseverance. Let us take encouragement from the words of Jesus: "By your perseverance you will secure your lives."
(Edited version of homily published 2011 by Faith Catholic, Lansing, MI. Printed with permission.)