Annoying versus Persistent

July 28, 2019 – Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,” and he says in reply from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.” I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. (Luke 11:5-13)

I was on a youth retreat once at which this reading from Luke was used as an evening meditation. I was prepared to reflect afterwards about the loving generosity of God, who is willing to answer the door for us if we are persistent in our prayer.

I read the passage and began my reflection. A hand went up. I nodded at a young man who said, “I have heard this reading several times. Each time I hear it, I keep thinking that the guy needing the bread is kind of annoying. What is the difference between being annoying and being persistent?”

My mind raced. What on-the-spot theological wisdom could I provide?

I was about to offer an off-the-cuff response when a young lady said, “It depends on where the desire is coming from. If you are seeking something that is a desire of the flesh, with selfish motive, and you keep asking for it over and over again, that’s annoying. If it is a desire of the heart, pure and unselfish, then you are being persistent.”

Yes, that’s what I was going to say…

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