Never Give Up
Each of us is tempted to quit during times of crises and disappointment. The temptation to quit is real, but so is the grace to never give up. This was true of the woman in the Gospel who was Greek, and had a concern for her ill daughter. The woman made her appeal and her appeal was finally heard.
It is a blessing to have someone in our life who had the spirit of courage to never give up. I was ordained by Bishop Cuthbert O’Gara, Passionist. He was a missionary bishop in China. In 1951, Bishop Cuthbert was arrested by the Communists in his church. They took him from the altar, stripped him of his garments and paraded him through the streets. Bishop Cuthbert was cast into solitary confinement for the next two years. His health broke down and he was released and expelled from the country. After he regained his health in the States, Bishop Cuthbert resumed ministry. When he imposed his hands upon me, that day of ordination, I prayed that he would share with me his courage to never give up on ourselves. As Winston Churchill said: “When you’re going through hell, keep going”.
We also need the spirit of patience never to give up on others. There was a leader of a youth retreat who was about to correct, and possibly dismiss, one of the
young men because he was distracting himself and distracting others. At an appropriate time, the leader took the young man aside. Before saying what he wanted to say, he casually asked the young man how his family was. That opened the door. The young man’s mother had just died, his father had left the family years ago, he had no permanent home, and etc.etc.The leader realized the young man did not need correction, but a listening and an understanding heart. Patience won the day and also won the young man.
Sometimes a person is tempted to give up on the Church. Here Pope Francis reminds us: “If the Church is alive, she must always surprise”. These surprises may “astound and confuse us”. The Vatican Council certainly astounded many of the people of God. But it brought new life and new direction. That is why Pope John XX111 wanted to open the windows of the Church and allow the wisdom of Holy Spirit to bring about a new Pentecost. The Church doesn’t hesitate, says Pope Francis, “to go out, meet people, proclaim the message that has been entrusted to her. She is a Church that embraces the
world, but doesn’t seize it”.
Sometimes we find people who are tempted to give up on God. Pope Francis has a lovely invitation: “If up till now you have kept the Lord at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms”. That was true of a lady who kept the Lord at a distance. Then she was invited by a friend to join her at a parish mission. Reluctantly she attended the mission. But the Lord did the rest. He received the woman with open arms. A whole new relationship began for the lady. It was comforting, it was lasting, it was surprising. As she gave God a chance, he gave her his love and his heart. We are reminded of that invitation: “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will refresh you”.
As Pope Francis reminds us:” If the Church is alive, she must always surprise”. So never give up.
Fr. Theodore Walsh, C.P.