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February 8, 2018 - Persist in Faith

Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Persistence, grit, perseverance - as a school counselor, these are buzz words of my profession. There is a lot of time and energy and research put into the question of how do you teach these qualities to kids? How do we instill these character traits in today's youth? The question has become even more relevant as we see the impact of our society's need for selfish, immediate-gratification.

When I read today's readings these same words come into focus for me as well. In the first reading God is the one who is persistent - trying to reach Solomon and connect with him. God becomes angry that he had visibly appeared to Solomon twice but Solomon still turned his heart from him. I read this and thought -"how many times has God felt that way with me? How often has God been frustrated with me because I simply do not see Him at work around me?" Thankfully our God is not only persistent but merciful as well. Our God is constantly working in our lives, waiting for us to recognize Him and He does not give up on us.

In today's Gospel, these same words come to mind, but this time to describe the Syrophoenician woman. The conversation that takes place between she and Jesus, is a reference to racial and social structures and statuses. This woman, who knows she is below Jesus, as far as race and status at that time, is persistent. She knows that her daughter is valuable and needs help. She knows that Christ's love and healing applies to all - no matter your race, class or status. She has grit - she will not be told no.

There are several lessons we can draw from this today. First, it is true that God's love, mercy and forgiveness are for all people - regardless of race, background, skin color, socio-economic status. Jesus came for all of humanity - no exceptions.

Second - I think we can draw from this the importance of our perseverance in prayer, especially when we feel we are battling the ways of the devil. Just as there is goodness in this world, there is also evil. We are called to fight against it and to work to bring about change. This woman knew her daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit and needed Christ to cleanse her of this. We too need to turn to Christ to help us battle evil in today's world. And when we feel like we are not making an impact, like there is still much to do, we must persevere and continue to call on Christ to enter the battle with us. We must be persistent in calling on Christ and on working to bring about His kingdom here on Earth.   Amen.

-  AJ Grimm