Scripture: Lectionary 426. Aug.27. I Thessalonians 2:1-8. Psalm 139:1-3,4-6. Matthew 23: 23-26:
In the address of this letter Paul mentions his coworkers, Timothy and Silvanus. He does not do things alone but always with fellow workers in the vineyard. He depends on women to offer food and shelter on the journeys he makes. Paul is a community-minded person and is the apostle to the Churches. Several Jewish friends say that Paul was a great salesman and for them, he is the founder of Christianity! Let us not forget he does not work alone in his mission of bringing people to Christ among the Gentiles (the nations of his time).
He assures us of the courage and sincerity they bring to the Thessalonians and that he is thankful for their faith and generous response to the Good News of Christ. There is no duplicity in him or his companions. They are wholesome, transparent, and trustworthy. They do not work from a power position of control but from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They have been caught by Jesus message and action in their lives. Paul speaks for all three of these apostles of the Lord. Greed, envy and trickery are absent from these workers in the vineyard of the Lord. They are like mothers who nurse their children and who calm their listeners with words of encouragement and comfort. They share their very lives with the Thessalonians and are model pastors for us.
Psalm 139 is the most personal and profound Psalm in the Bible and touches down to the very fiber and makeup of the human heart. It is a Psalm that exults life from its very beginnings and probes the depth of what it means to be truly human. It is an image of the dispositions and virtues of Paul and his companions in their relationships with people. The Psalm is a good reflection of what Paul is saying to the Thessalonians from the depths of his heart and his apostolic courage.
The above messages contrast with chapter 23 which is filled with the woes that Jesus declares against those who use religion for their profit or for their personal glory. The role of leaders and teachers is to be wholesome and transparent agents of God’s loving plan of redemption when it comes to religion. The virtues listed throughout Paul’s letter are a great system for leaders. If practiced those in authority would have a concern for the common good and not merely for exponential financial growth and personal pride. Leaders need to live a virtuous life as servants of God if they are truly servants and leaders of the people. Paul’s catalogue of virtues if really understood would bring both success and justice to those who depend on their leadership. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.