By James Cornwell

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 21:5-19

5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 7 They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8 And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.

9 “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Meditation

The University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth once studied “grit” in the context of the U. S. Military Academy. She and her colleagues found that individuals with more “grit” were more likely to be retained across their 47 months of intense academic, military, and physical training.

I thought about grit today when I read about patience in Luke’s Gospel. Patience, we are frequently told, is a virtue, but we rarely appreciate just how important a virtue it is. I believe this is because we tend to think of patience as something like “being good at waiting.” That’s important, to be sure (how many times does the Bible extol us to wait?), but it isn’t the whole of the meaning of the virtue.

The Greek word for “patience” in this passage is sometimes translated as “endurance” and in other places “perseverance.” There’s a certain logic to the two underlying meanings. Our life isn’t stationary, and we are constantly called to move toward our final end. Periodically, the way will be hard, and we will be tempted to give up rather than persevere. Similarly, the way will be littered with myriad easier paths leading off in different directions, and we will be enticed to give in to their temptation rather than endure them.

Elsewhere St. Paul tells us that “patience” leads to “experience” and thereby “hope.” It is thus the virtue that links the present with the future and calls forth the Holy Spirit to minister to us in our meantime tribulation. Cultivate patience, therefore, because “in your patience possess ye your souls.”

James Cornwell lives and teaches in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their six children.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of West Texas
The Diocese of Chicago