Commentary on the Gospel of
What was the message Jesus was trying to convey to his disciples in today’s Gospel reading?
The story about a friend knocking on his neighbor’s door at midnight asking for bread seems odd in today’s world.
Would we knock on our neighbor’s door at midnight? No, we would call their cellphone or send them a text. That would be a lot easier than walking down a pitch black, unlit street to seek them out. And if they didn’t answer our text or call, oh well, we tried, and that might likely be the end of our attempt to reach them. (And, if we really did need bread for a late arriving house guest so we could make them a sandwich, there is always the 24-7 convenience store nearby.)
But in Jesus’ time the options were not unlimited, and unless one was “persistent” in their search, their needs would go unfulfilled. When we think of the word “persistence,” we think of words like dogged determination, unrelenting, unremitting or abiding. And the image we often associate with the word might be of Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain only to see it roll back down, again and again. Was Jesus telling the disciples that their work would not be easy but if they “persisted” they would prevail?
So, how would we rate our own level of persistence? Are we “relentless” and do we focus our efforts with “dogged determination,” or when obstacles appear, do we look for an easy way around them? If we think about the books started and not finished or the diets contemplated but not started, or abandoned exercise equipment, we might begin to see a trend.
Rather than think only about “persistence” in our personal lives, how persistent are we in growing our spiritual lives? If we are to evaluate ourselves based solely upon saying a blessing before our meals, reading daily reflections and going to Mass on Sunday, most would probably have high marks and proudly claim we are “persistent.”
But is that the type of “persistence” Jesus was talking about? Or, was he telling his disciples that it takes so much more to be true to our faith, lots of knocking on doors, seeking answers, and lots of questions to ask about how to grow each and every day in strengthening our faith and our love for God. For, as we all know so very well, there are many distractions along the way to prevent us from reaching our goal.
As we focus upon the Gospel, we need to remember that despite our slips, stumbles or falls, we need to “persist” in practicing our faith and living it in our thoughts, words and deeds. Let’s pause and reflect upon how we interact with others, be it family, co-workers, neighbors or complete strangers, and think about the love we show them. Is it Christ like, full of compassion, understanding and a willingness to help? This may be the best indicator of just how deeply Christ is part of our lives and how “persistent” we are.
Hopefully, when living our faith, we are “relentless” and have “dogged determination” to be true to our faith. For in today’s world, that might be as hard as finding a loaf of bread at midnight in Jesus’ world.