Persistence and Perseverance
Perseverance is based on the assurance that we really will find what we seek. No one can keep on asking all through the night if they were not already sustained by God’s Holy Spirit. We treasure this Holy Spirit within us, as temples of God (1 Cor 3:16). If we believe, it is under the impulse of God’s mysterious presence. Paul assures us that this Spirit “witnesses within our spirit that we are truly God’s children” (Rom 8:16).
Instead of the religious word, “perseverance,” Luke brings us down to earth by the more secular word, “persistence”. While “perseverance” echoes the way to heaven, there’s a taste of stubbornness about “persistence”. Such indeed is the tone and attitude of Jesus’ short parable.
The social custom of that culture demands that the door be opened even to someone who arrives in the middle of the night. Maybe we should not bang on our neighbour’s door at midnight in order to borrow some bread. Jesus is not saying what is right or wrong here. The point of his parable is in its last line. The man of whom the inconvenient request was made obliges, not because of friendship but because of the other’s persistence, and then gives what was asked.
Jesus takes the point further by appealing to parents’ care and attention towards their children. Does a mother give a snake when a child asks for fish? He acknowledges the basic goodness and fidelity of every human being, yet he also wants our relationships to deepen and become still more reliable:, with God’s help. If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. God gives part of himself, his own Holy Spirit so that our own good actions manifest his divine goodness and reach beyond our dreams and expectations.