The famous American football coach Vince Lombardi was not only a great sports coach he was also a gifted speaker. He had a way with words. Some of the things that he said to his players have endured and become part of our culture. One of these is the now familiar proverb, “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.” That saying has lasted all these years, because it has a broader application than simply athletics. It is the truth about life. There are few things in this life that all of us admire more than courageous and determined effort. The person who keeps on trying, even when he or she is beaten, is an inspiration to us all.
This weekend’s Gospel deals with something of this same theme. Jesus told his disciples to keep on praying and never loose heart. Then to enforce that lesson he told a story about a judge who cared little for God or man. Justice was of small consequence to him, but a certain widow started coming to him and pleading her case. At first he refused to help her, she kept on coming. She was not to be denied. Finally he said to himself “This widow is wearing me out, I’m going to settle in her favour.”
The point of this Gospel story is not that we can wear God down and finally get what we want. What Jesus is saying to us is that we should not give up on life that we should keep on keeping on. For some people quitting is a real temptation. The outlook in this word is so often discouraging that it would be an easy thing to loose heart. Just read the paper or watch the TV news. The media serve up a steady diet of crime and violence, of disease and death, famine and starvation. In these days when so much tragedy is funnelled into our living rooms, it is a difficult thing to keep on believing in and working for a better world. There has to be moments for all us when we are tempted to give up the fight.
Jesus understood the temptation of discouragement but he never quit. His example gives us the strength and courage to keep on keeping on with God as our helper. There is no reason ever to give up on life. Fr John