Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee 2018 (children)

2 Timothy 3:10-15

These letters from St. Paul to St. Timothy sure are something, aren't they? They say so much. They show the care that St. Paul has for this young man who learned the faith that he learned from St. Paul when he used to learn from St. Paul. There are two things that strike me in this morning's reading that I wanted to talk to you about a little bit.

The first one is that St. Paul reminds St. Timothy that he has endured struggles. He tells him about several instances where bad things—if I can call them that—happened to him. He says: You know what happened to me at Lystra, at Iconium. We know that St. Paul was imprisoned, and we know that he ended up dying a martyr's death. But St. Paul also said that from all those things God delivered him; He gave him strength. Eventually God gave St. Paul strength to face his martyrdom.

So the first thing that we need to keep in mind is that our lives are not always going to be easy. Just because they led to difficulties does not mean that God has left us. God is there with us in those difficulties, just as He was there with St. Paul, as He has been with all those who have suffered. God, as St. Paul says in another letter, because He has suffered and tempted, He is able to help those who are suffering and being tempted. The Son of God in His incarnation, has suffered. In this, He has not abandoned those who are faithful to Him, but He is there with them in their suffering. So just because we encounter difficulties does not mean that God has abandoned us. God does not abandon.

The other thing that I wanted to talk about in this morning's letter from St. Paul to St. Timothy is that St. Paul tells St. Timothy: You hold fast to these things you have learned because you know whom you have learned them from. St. Paul relies on his authority as an apostle of Christ. He is telling St. Timothy: Your parents were faithful—your mother and grandmother—and I am an apostle. You have learned the faith from people who were trustworthy. I want you to think about that as you learn your faith. Whom are you learning your faith from? Who God is, what God asks from us in terms of how we should live our lives—you are learning that from the Church of Christ: the Church of Christ who can, through the bishop, can trace her lineage down to the apostles, who has fought throughout history through the sufferings of the confessors and the deaths of martyrs to keep the faith pure and to hand it down to us in such a way that if we follow it, we could be led to the joy of Christ, both here on earth and of course in the kingdom.

So you know whom you're learning things from. You're learning from the successors of the apostles, from the Church that Christ has founded. Take courage and have faith that what you are learning is the truth that Christ has handed down through the apostles, and through the bishops and the priests through the ages, all the way down to us. And know that whatever difficulties you encounter, God is with you in them. He never forsakes you.

But, knowing these things, let us be diligent in learning our faith, knowing what we believe, knowing what those beliefs mean in terms of how we should live our lives, and let us always draw near to God so that... Even though He is near to us, there are times when we might not perceive His presence. So let us open ourselves in prayer and join ourselves to Him so that we may be able to perceive His presence in those difficult times, to know and not forget that He is with us to the end of the ages. For this promise that God has given, that he will be with us in all circumstances, let us be thankful and give glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.



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