Writer’s block was no stranger to John Steinbeck. Allegedly, while writing The Grapes of Wrath, he got stuck for six months searching for just the right word. The word he finally settled on was “strove.”
“The plants strove against the sun.”
In today’s gospel, Christ tells us to “strive to enter the narrow gate.”
And so we need to ask ourselves: Is that the word that best characterizes our Christian life – striving?
The Greek word translated as “strive” is “agonizomai“ [agg-uh-nihd-zoh-my]. Our English word agony comes from this Greek word. The Greeks used this word to describe the contests in their Olympic games. They also used it to describe hand-to-hand combat with an enemy. Other Bible versions translate the word used in this verse as “make every effort” and “try your hardest“.
Jesus is eagerly looking at us today, inviting us to break out of our comfort zones and strive to follow him more closely. We each have to examine our hearts and see where we have been falling into routine – where in our Christian lives we have been getting lazy?
Maybe you already know. But if not, here’s a suggestion.
We cannot strive with all our strength to follow Christ if we do not know Christ. This week, why not make the resolution to start striving to know Christ better? It can be done in many ways:
- Weekly Eucharistic adoration
- Joining a Bible study group at your parish
- Renewing your prayer life
- Reading a good book on the life of Christ or the lives of the saints
Whatever each of us decides to do, let’s make sure we decide to do something – depending not on our own strength, but on God’s grace.
I strive to live a life in Christ like a flower grows towards the sun
Beautiful analogy from nature. I think it nicely sums up what our relationship of total dependence on God should look like. Thank you!
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Loved the post. I find it so enlightening to have someone explain the origin of a word or the various shades of meaning in a translated word. Those are the things that I don’t know myself, and so appreciate having it opened up for me–so that it can in turn open up the meaning of the Scripture.
Thank you, Reinkat. The Word of God is rich and deep. We could mine it for centuries and never exhaust it’s riches. While etymology only scratches the surface, it does allow us to penetrate that surface and dig deeper to know Christ more intimately.
Well, I certainly like “strive” better than other words Jesus COULD have used, ..like “moil”, for instance.
But knowing of and trusting in His grace certainly makes our load infinitely lighter, regardless of which verb we use.
Nice post, brudda.