Week of November 13, 2016

“By your perseverance you will secure your lives”.  What is perseverance?  For some it means outlasting all of the obstacles.  For some it means never changing course.  For others it is taking everything that is thrown at them and never giving in.  Many feel perseverance is what makes a Cubs fan a Cubs fan.   Being persistent is not the same.  Being persistent is what credit card companies are when you missed a payment. Being persistent is what some charity groups are when they call over and over again. Persistence is what we have experienced coming from political parties and politicians during the election time.

Perseverance comes from a place deep within ourselves.  We persevere for many reasons.  The greatest example of perseverance is when we are connected to a goal that we will not let go.  Whatever that goal is, we see it as so important that we go all in and hold on to it, no matter the cost.  Whether it is something of this world, like losing weight or finishing a marathon, or whether it is something that goes beyond this world such as eternal life, the fact remains the same.  We all long to experience something that is of so much value that we will not let go of it.

Jesus in today’s Gospel reminds us of what is eternally important.  He tells us that the things of the world will change; power shifts will happen, world wars will occur, droughts, and famines, too. Yet all of these are not to distract us from persevering.  Our souls were meant for union with God in eternal life.  One of the moments I will never forget in ministry involved a young family I encountered while I was assigned at St. Anthony’s in Frankfort. The mother of the family was diagnosed with cancer and while she could choose to undergo treatment, the results were not guaranteed.  When visiting her in the hospital with her husband, she spoke of the decision she had made not to take any treatment.  She was in the medical field and she knew what the chemotherapy was because she had administered it to many.  The reality of refusing the opportunity to fight the disease would most likely bring a quick end to her life.  What struck me was that she would most likely miss her daughter’s Confirmation and graduation from eighth grade.  As we sat with her extended family one night into the wee hours of the morning, she spoke openly to all who were there, including her parents and her family.  She said that she felt God had given her this disease and she was convinced that eternal life with God is what we were meant to live for, so why should she delay the process?  She felt she was teaching her child more about faith by embracing the disease and the joy of meeting God than prolonging something that would only add numerical days to her calendar. It was an impressive and bold move.  She knew and believed.  God came quickly and many marveled at her faith.

Perseverance. We are invited to take seriously the things of heaven and hold on to them more than the things of this world.

Reverend John J. Ouper