Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 27, 2019 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine,
 Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In today’s second reading, Saint Paul testifies to his faith in a letter addressed to his disciple Timothy. It is amazing how great Saint Paul’s faith is! He is being held prisoner by the Romans in Rome. After 30 years of evangelization, he is aware that the end of his life is near: “The time of my departure has come” (2 Tm 4:6). He knows that he is not far from martyrdom. He says to Timothy: “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tm 4:7). The most important thing for him was to keep the faith.

Is faith the most important thing in our lives? Is it not the second or maybe the third? Indeed, what really counts at the moment of our death is our faith. Everything else is superfluous and transitory.

What impressed me the most in Saint Paul’s words is how faith allowed him to see the path to glory under all circumstances.

He was being held prisoner. When he had to defend himself before the judges, no one was with him: “At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me” (2 Tm 4:16). He was condemned to death. However, nothing defeated him. His faith was great: “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength” (2 Tm 4:17). Saint Paul was certain that Christ was leading him. Prison, loneliness, suffering and martyrdom were no obstacles for him. He was victorious: “From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me” (2 Tm 4:8). In Saint Paul, we can see the effect of faith on our lives. Nothing can prevent us from reaching our destiny, our happiness: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Tm 4:18).

Faith allowed Saint Paul to see all things as positive steps toward Christ and as means through which Christ’s love reached him.

Saint Paul’s courage and strength did not come from himself. His capacity to see everything as positive was not because he was an optimist. He was a man totally centered on the presence of Christ. For Saint Paul, Jesus was not an idea, thought or feeling. Jesus was a real presence in his life.

Saint Paul teaches us what it means to believe. We are far from Saint Paul’s level of holiness. If we have a toothache, we think it is the end of world. However, we are all called to experience everything in life as Paul did.

When we compare our faith with Saint Paul’s, we understand how lacking we are. We are poor. We are weak. We are sinners. However, none of these things is an obstacle to loving Jesus Christ. If we lack faith, if we lack courage before the circumstances of life, if we see only negativity around us, if we live life fearing the future, we need to beg, to implore God to grant us the same faith that he gave Paul. We need to be like the tax collector in today’s Gospel: “The tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner’” (Lk 18:13).

O Lord, send us your Spirit, strengthen us with the light of your presence, give us courage, peace and the grace to see everything as a sign of your infinite love for us.  Amen.