Year C: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: based on St Paul’s first Letter to Timothy 6: 11-16
This reading draws this first letter to a close with a final exhortation to Timothy one of his co-workers.
St Paul gives Timothy clear guidelines about how he is to live - what qualities he is to develop.
At first sight, these qualities of faith and love, gentleness and patience seem passive - but Paul immediately follows the list with the famous “fight the good fight” phrase and encouraging Timothy to win eternal life. The qualities that St Paul wants in his disciples are not meant to make them weak in the face of hostility - but rather to give them a new kind of strength.
All too often, we see loud and aggressive behaviour. Often it leaves us feeling anxious - but it can go even deeper than that. Our souls can be disturbed - and we feel spiritually as well as physically threatened.
There are times, though, when we meet people who seem to have quiet strength about them. They don’t shout - or become violent - and yet, we know that they are strong - often stronger than those who feel they have to make their point forcefully.
These are the people St Paul is suggesting that we model ourselves on. Such strength comes from deep within. It is almost as if we are tapping into a Strength far greater than our own.
This is the Strength that enabled Jesus to face the Agony in the Garden and receive the Cup that was held before Him. It was this Strength too that enabled Him to endure the torture and death which followed.
It was this Strength that enabled the early Christians to face persecution - and martyrdom.
It is a Strength that has been passed down the ages - enabling people to leave homes and families - to explore and evangelise - to stand up for what is true even when it costs their life.
It is a Strength that has enabled people to sustain marriage and family-life against overwhelming odds.
It is a Strength that is, in St Paul's words elsewhere, made perfect in weakness .
Again, this seems like a contradiction but it is true. Our weakness makes us aware that we can’t do it alone - and forces us to turn to God for the strength we need. Resting on His strength, we can allow His graces of peace and power - of gentleness and unshakeable courage to grow in us.
What does it mean for me?
Text © 2006 WellspringWeekly Wellsprings ]