Year C: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: based on St Paulís second Letter to Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18
St Paulís letter draws to a close this week - and the end is in sight.
His life has been an offering (libation) and is soon to find its fulfilment in the righteous crown he will receive from the Lord. His life has been marked by suffering - the fight - and strain and effort - in the race. Now all energy is gone - and he awaits the final summons.
We know that Paul was martyred by beheading and was quickly acknowledged as a great saint. His was the task of taking the radical message of Jesus in the Gospel and finding ways to live that out in many and varied communities. Some of his writing is firmly rooted in his culture - the famous teaching on women keeping silent in church/ keeping their heads covered, etc. Other parts speak of someone whose soul transcended time and space catching glimpses of the Divine and struggling to bring something of that experience into his writing.
We cannot hope to follow the example of one who travelled the known world preaching in market-places and synagogues - but we can learn something from the final extract from this letter.
Here is a servant of God approaching the end of his life.
As he looks back, he sees the sufferings and difficulties. He remembers being abandoned in times of need. He is at a time of taking stock - and, in the end, seeing that it was all worth it and he can die content.
This would be the hope of all servants of God at the time of taking-stock: to look back over a lifetime of service - with all its joys and sorrows - and to be ready to go, secure in the knowledge that the race was run to its conclusion - nothing was left to be done. There would be grace in knowing the the flame had been passed on to others to keep alight in their turn - to lay aside the burdens of responsibility and focus on preparing for going home.
And it is never really to early to start - to appraise your discipleship...
What have been the sorrows and joys?
Are there things that it is time to hand on to others - perhaps so that you can focus on other things - or to free yourself for more time in prayer and loving relationships
What would you be glad to leave behind?
What in your life would give you feelings of satisfaction and thanksgiving?
What does it mean for me?
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