There can be a temptation for all of us to become so exasperated by our own inability to overcome our shortcomings, failings and sins that we feel like giving up. As a confessor, I know this is the case for many of the people who come to me. “It’s getting no better, Father. I’m still just as sinful today as I was yesterday”. There is no hope and a lot of despair in this comment, but I know this is a common sentiment – and a common attitude or disposition. I know this not only as a confessor but also as a penitent. There is a temptation that exists in many of us, myself included, to want to give up because we see little or no progress in our own spiritual lives. There can be a temptation for most of us to simply just give up trying. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we mustn’t do that; and we have to conform ourselves to a new way of thinking. We have to allow ourselves to trust in the Lord. If He’s asking us to be vigilant, to keep working at it – HE SEES THE PROGRESS even where we don’t.
As you know, my reflections in my present ministry as Vocation Director take on a vocational theme, and while this message is one we can all be reminded of; it’s especially one I hope those discerning a vocation to priesthood or religious life will be particularly mindful of and hear the words of Jesus today. I say this because the beauty of the calling to serve Jesus configured to Him as a priest or consecrated person often makes the discerner feel they have to be better to the average person. The Lord has given you the tremendous outpouring of grace to open your heart to priesthood or religious life; the heroic spiritual tools to live this life, if it’s for you – but you will struggle with weakness and sin! I turn to St. Peter, my own personal hero. If we look at the Gospels, especially the Gospel of St. Mark – Peter fails many, many times. I’m inspired by him because he never gives up. He perseveres, he confesses, he sheds some tears, he falls and then he gets up and keeps going, loving and serving our Lord day by day. The early days of Peter led him to the day when as the head of the Apostles he gave his life and was crucified in Rome. He was vigilant! Brothers & sisters, keep your head in the game, and keep on trying. The Lord truly appreciates your vigilance.