|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doing What You Can
Sunday, October 16, 2016
There is an ancient Aztec fable about a fire that started in a forest. It spread quickly and all the animals start to leave. As the owl was flying away from the flames, he sees this little quetzal flying back and forth from the river diving into the river grabbing some water in its little beak and fly back putting a couple of drops of water onto the flames.
The owl disturbed by this behavior flies down to the edge of the river and asks, “What are you trying to do?” The little blue and white bird quips back, “I am doing what I can.” As he grabs another couple of droplets of water and heads back into the fire to try to put it out.
The owl inspired by this flies down and grabs water and likewise all the animals; even the human beings grab water from the river and soon the flames of the fire are conquered.1
It is a cute fable that gives a similar theme to today’s gospel. Persistence in the little things that we do. In the scripture, the Lord is asking us to be persistent in our prayer. “Pray always without growing weary.” He holds up the persistence of a widow fighting for her cause. In that ancient culture, only a man could go in front of the judge; yet, here she was a widow demanding justice for herself. Persistence pays off!
Jesus is not commending the unjust judge as much as he is commending the persistence of this widow. We often think that our little droplets of water will make no difference in the raging fire of this world —what difference will it make if I choose to be a good person? It is just a droplet of water on a raging fire in our world. But we are called to be persistent in who we are as Christians and take those droplets of God’s love to put on the fire of the world.
It isn’t only about what we do at Church but what we will do in the world. It is up to us to bring our faith alive in every little action. The Lord today tells us that it starts with prayer. He wants us to be people of prayer. Do whatever it takes but be persistent in developing your relationship with God.
The old formal definition of prayer was to “life mind and heart to God.” Along with the scriptures today, I plead with you to pray always, without growing weary and to be persistent in that goal. To never give up finding a way until we have it rooted in our life; until we can say steadfastly that I am a person of prayer–ten or fifteen minutes of prayer.
(Endnotes) 1 “Homily Helps,” (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, OH, October 20)