MESSAGE FROM PASTOR BEN O’CINNSEALAIGH
Waiting for God is never fruitless
A few years ago, I was at the dedication of a new church here in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The old church was too small to provide for the needs of a rapidly growing community, so the pastor initiated a process to assess the present and future needs and involved the community in making a decision to build a new church on a different site. There was both acclimation and resistance, significant and tough resistance. The pastor was persistent and believed in his vision, a vision shared by many of the people. Eventually, a beautiful new church was built incorporating many features such as meeting rooms, offices, classrooms, a large gathering space, a large reception hall, bathrooms, easy accessibility for wheelchairs, and a beautiful site fully landscaped. as well of a beautiful and spacious new Church incorporating many items from the old church such as stained glass windows, tabernacle statues, and more It was truly spectacular.
Interestingly, the readings for the Sunday of the blessing included the story of the persistent friend asking for bread – today’s Gospel story. During his homily, Archbishop Schnurr mentioned that he had personal experience with the reality of this story during the building of the church he was dedicating. He told how the pastor had very particular designs and vision for the church which didn’t always line up with the Archbishop’s, or the Worship Office, or the Archdiocese Liturgical Design Committee. Nevertheless, the pastor was persistent, and time and again he would return often about the same design issues and wouldn’t give up. Eventually, the Archbishop said, in exasperation, on several issues he gave in. The pastor’s persistence convinced him, and his persistence won the day; he was like the persistent friend or the woman before the judge.
Sometimes things take time. Sometimes things take more energy, effort, and persistence than we might have anticipated. It amazes me, for example, how people who want to change in some way expect overnight success. They want to end a particular lifelong bad habit, or they want to hand their life over to God, then become frustrated that they continue the same bad habit, or they are not instantly saints – they continue to fail, fall, or even sin! We all know that some things take effort, determination, time, practice, and even patience. Success does not always come at once. We also know, for those who are persistent, dedicated, make the effort, and give it their all, we find a way to achieve, and even, sometimes, to succeed.
God does not always give us what we ask for, but He will always give us what we need. After all, we pray “Thy Kingdom come,” not “Lord, build my kingdom,” although often that is what we mean. Life does not always go our way but not always getting what we expect is not a reason to give up on life. Sometimes, God has better things in mind for us. I personally am not a patient man, and it really aggravates me to have to wait for God to act. Yet even I have learned that waiting for what God desires to do in my life has led to greater blessings than anything I have planned myself. Persistence may not pay off in the way we expect, or want, but persistence in our relationship with God is never fruitless.