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By Your Endurance You Will Gain Your Souls

As we approach the end of Ordinary Time in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar, Jesus continues to prepare us for the final struggle. Our readings this Sunday speak of the suffering which awaits those who love Jesus, and the great importance of an often overlooked virtue: endurance. Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus’ insistence on the necessity of endurance, and each of them places His words on the subject just before He enters Jerusalem to be crucified. Clearly this is important to Jesus, and it should be important to us. What is so special about endurance? Why did Jesus single it out? The word itself is technically defined as ‘the ability to bear suffering without breaking’, and ‘continued existence over time’. When I think about endurance, I think of my own experience as an athlete. I spent most of my time in high school and university as an oarsman, racing boats over two-kilometre courses, and one of the things I learned was the utter primacy of endurance. The bigger, more impressive looking oarsman possessed tremendous power, but if that power wasn’t backed up by endurance, then as soon as the discomfort of racing set in it was rendered essentially useless. The greatest athletes in the sport certainly possessed the necessary power, but what separated the great from the good was the ability to endure- to keep going, to continue to generate power over time, and simply to outlast anyone else keeping the same pace. 'Endurance' also reminds me of a great quote from my favourite movie series, Rocky Balboa. As a boxer, Rocky’s main talent was not his power, skill, or speed, but his ability to withstand great beatings. Speaking to his son about going through difficulties in life, he famously says. “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.” The value of endurance is evident in a sport like rowing, in the immortal words of Rocky Balboa, and most especially in our lives as we follow Jesus. He gave us the greatest example of endurance when, ‘for the sake of the joy that lay before Him He endured the Cross, despising its shame, and has taken His seat at the right hand of God. Consider how He endured such opposition from sinners in order that you may not grow weary or lose heart.’ (Hebrews 12:1-3) May we, like Jesus, faithfully endure everything that comes our way. God love you, Father Corso

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