Generosity and Persistence

In the traditional understanding of the parable of “The Sower and Seed,” the focus is often on the soil as a description of our hearts, of our openness to the word of God being sown into our lives. The soil/heart is described as a well-trod path, rocky ground, a bramble of thorns, or rich fertile soil. There is some insight there to be sure, but it does not necessarily give insight into a remedy.  Some have described it as “the soil under your feet”. All one must do is to look down, assess the conditions where you stand in life, and move. Move to the rich fertile soil – and yes, along the way you will have to deal with birds, the weeds and the scorching sun.

At least two things stand out for me about the Sower: generosity and persistence.

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Persistence

Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Jerome, best known for his work on the translations of Hebrew and Greek texts of Sacred Scripture into the Latin language version known as the Vulgate. He was also known as a man given to being persnickety, temperamental, easily annoyed and with a quick temper. And he is a saint… there is hope for us all, perhaps.

Certainly, his work on translation is graced and worthy of praise and is a model of persistence, achieved over 30 years of effort.  But so too is his persistence in the remorse of his actions with his friends and enemies. I won’t go over his history, his encounters, or his travelogue as he was bounced from place to place. He was not an innocent. Many of his problems were self-inflicted, but he ever turned toward God for grace, mercy and forgiveness. He was human but persistently sought God and the Good in this work for translation and in living out his problematic life. Continue reading

Unlearning and prayer

There are some who are encouraged by the words of today’s Gospels. All we have to do is ask and it will be given; knock and doors open. Be persistent, keep knocking. And some folks are able to testify to miraculous cures, a marriage now strengthened, a financial situation turned around, a job offer, and more. In some corners of American Christianity this is the core Gospel, a gospel of prosperity. The good things in life are a reward for their faith, their persistence, their prayers to their personal Lord and Savior. Pray that a child is accepted into a premier university and so it happens. Pray for a parking spot and one will be provided. Sometimes their testimonies about the power of prayer makes me wonder if God is expected to act in the role of valet or concierge in which prayers are the currency by which this divine transaction operates. Continue reading

Praying: visitor in the night

friend-at-midnight5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ 7 and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. Continue reading