I heard this story from one of our priests. He narrated that once Don Bosco was asking for financial help to support his apostolate among poor and abandoned youth in his city of Turin. This diocesan priest was constantly plagued by debts as he had to provide food and shelter to more than 500 hundred poor lads who come to him. Arriving from the rural areas, they hunt for jobs in the big city without neither skills nor experience.
Now, Don Bosco approached a rich gentleman to beg. But this rich guy happened to be less sympathetic for his work among street children. Instead of giving, he insulted the priest and even spat on him. Mortified, Don Bosco calmly wiped the spittle then looking at the gentleman said: “Thank you, Sir. That insult was for me.. Now if you could be so kind to give some help for my boys it would be very much appreciated!”
Despite the rejection, Don Bosco was still persistent!
In today’s Gospel (Mt 13:54-58), we read about the rejection of Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth, his native place. His neighbors questioned his authority. His family background was checked; his credentials were underestimated. Yet Jesus was not discouraged! He did not loose heart. He did not give up. He pushed on. He kept going. He continued in doing good; in building God’s Reign.
Jesus challenges us to persevere and to persist. Heroes and saints are dreamers. But more than that, they keep their dream alive. They keep it going by translating it to reality. They work for it.
Franz Schubert was a prolific Austrian composer. He died young at 32 by typhoid fever. One of his masterpiece is called the Symphony 8 in B minor (also renumbered as Symphony 7). This obra is also called the “Unfinished Symphony.” Many speculate that this work is incomplete because Franz got distracted from his original inspiration.
In Barcelona, a must-see symbol of the city is the famous Sagrada Famiglia Cathedral. This architectural masterpiece is also known as the “Unfinished Cathedral.” Why? Its famous architect, Antoni Gaudi started working on this project in 1882 but he died by tram accident in 1926. Imagine, after 43 years it remains incomplete!
In life we start to dream; we work to build something. Perhaps we aspire to be the light and salt of the world; create a new heaven and a new earth; desire a better world – build a community of justice, peace and love. But somewhere along the way we abandon our quest. The inspiration got lost. We discontinue. We have no more drive. No zest.
God’s Word challenges us to persist. Persevere – like Jesus!