From Sunday to Monday: Perseverance in Goodness

Here is a little prediction for you. Everyone who goes to Mass this morning will listen to the Parable of the Good Samaritan and resolve to be a better neighbour to others — more kindly, more compassionate, more generous. But come Monday morning, with its prospect of another day at the office or a mound of dirty laundry to be washed or even (whisper it not) a complicated and lengthy office of Vigils to celebrate St Benedict, and the milk of human kindness will quickly turn to yoghurt in our veins. We want to be good; we want to be all the things the gospel asks of us; but wishing and wanting don’t make things happen. We may have an impulse of kindness and generosity now and then, but to make them habitual requires hard work and many failures. That tends to put people off, rather like trying a new diet and slipping back into old habits once the initial enthusiasm has worn off. Why bother trying? Why not just accept that we can’t?

Perseverance is a very unshowy quality, but also very important in monastic life and indeed the Christian life in general. It means getting up again as soon as one has fallen, plodding on when one cannot run, trying one’s best even though one is doubtful of the outcome. It is a grace and, as such, one we can pray for, must pray for if we are to follow the teaching of Christ. Most of us are not Good Samaritans most of the time. We are not even priests or levites passing by. We are, though we may be reluctant to admit it, lying bruised and bloodied by the wayside, needing the Good Samaritan’s help. Learning to accept graciously is as important as learning to give graciously, but in many ways we find it harder because, of course, it takes us from being centre stage, from active to passive. If our resolve to be kinder, more compassionate, more generous doesn’t last into Monday, maybe our readiness  to accept the kindness, compassion and generopsity of others can. Sometimes it is only experiencing the goodness of others that can lead us to become good in our turn.

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11 thoughts on “From Sunday to Monday: Perseverance in Goodness”

  1. Am I right that you would welcome a virtual little bottle of oil sent in your general direction?
    I wish you a very blessed Good Samaritan Sunday.

  2. There were resonances of an old Petula Clark pop song in there Sister, I shall have it in my head till I get to church! However, the more important thing I shall have in my head is the verse of “Brother, sister, let me serve you”, that goes “pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too”… Ah.. so hard! I notice it hardest in those who have done their best to live a life of service. NOT being “useful” comes so hard..

    blessings today

  3. One wonders if the victim decided to become kinder and more generous or did he decide to travel to Samaria to ask for the benefit of being supported for the rest of his life?

  4. You are so right when you stress the need to be willing to receive as well as to give. Ungracious refusal of someone’s wish to help is so wrong. I do my shopping on a mobility scooter, and many people offer me help. I am always grateful for their kindness, and even if it is something I can do for myself, I always thank them for their offer, so that they are not put off helping another time.

  5. We did the parable at our Services today. With two different preachers – it was interesting to contrast the slightly different take on the parable.

    But the word perseverance featured in both of them and the need for love and tolerance, even for strangers or those who are different to us was the central theme of both sermons.

    Lovely to match your word too them here.

  6. Nothing like facing dishes to be washed or mounds of bureaucratic emails/memos to face to dim the glow of a Sunday resolution.
    Sometimes receiving kindness is difficult especially when we have no choice but to rely on others.
    Great reminders on these and other points.
    Thank you, Sister Catherine!

    !

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