She kept on coming

Spotlight is a gripping film about an investigation into a cover up by the Boston (USA) Archdiocese of priests accused of sex abuse of children. It is gripping because of the persistence of the reporters, especially one, in tracking down information. Time and again they meEt denials, obstruction, threats – but they kept at it until they had the evidence for a major story in the Boston Globe. The result was acute embarrassment for the Archdiocese and the whole Church in America. It was not happening in just one diocese. But the embarrassment quickly turned into action and reforms were made and today there is a thirst for “zero tolerance” of abuse and cover up anywhere in the Church, or indeed anywhere.

holy-bibleSo much pain has been caused but, if it is consolation, so much progress has also happened in making the Church a purer and humbler body. And it is all due – not to an internal reforms in the Church from, say, a synod or a council – but from a bunch of persistent journalists. They are the ones we have to praise and thank for “pruning” the Church. To see them at work in the film, the lengths they go to and the risks they take, to get at the truth, is stunning. “Blessed are those who hunger for what is right.” (Matt 5:6) In the Church we used to think we were the ones who had a message for the world. We do. But the world too has a message for us.

There is a parable in Luke (Ch. 18) about a woman who “kept on coming” to a judge for a just answer to her plea. He ignored her – he probably “lost the file” – for a long time. But then eventually he got tired of her and said, “I’d better give her what she wants otherwise she will box my ears or give me a black eye.” Jesus praises her persistence and holds her up as an example of how we should “pray continually and never lose heart.”

Persistence is a tough virtue but we can see that it is at the heart of what it is to be fully human, fully alive. Sportspeople, who endure punishing routines of training, peacemakers, inventors – and journalists – all give us great examples of what it is to persevere in prayer. It is no good saying, ‘yes, I prayed for that’ and then you go home and leave it there. It is clear from the saints that prayer and life in the Spirit demands constant and urgent attention. “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”

16 October 2016         Sunday 29 C

Exodus 17:8-13           2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2  Luke 18:1-8

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