|Memorial of St. Boniface
2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12
Psalm 123:1-2, 2
I have to admit that I always have a difficult time reflecting seriously on today’s Gospel passage. It’s another one of those instances in which a group of Jewish high priests are again seeking to trip up Jesus in his knowledge and understanding of the letter of the law, this time concerning the topic of life after death. But when they pose to him the hypothetical case of a woman marrying and outliving each of seven brothers, I inevitably lose my train of thought, wandering off to wonder what Rodney Dangerfield, not Jesus Christ, would say about that extraordinary instance of marital un-bliss.
St. Paul’s opening passages in his Second Letter to Timothy put me squarely back on track. The subject seems much the same: how am I to follow Christ in the world? It’s not done, as Jesus scolded the Sadducees, by a slavish, mechanical adherence to the rules of the Church. Rather, writes Paul, it must at least begin on the inside with the interior movements of my heart, not the exterior movements of my hands. It’s within that I am challenged to “stir into flame the gift of God,” a gift of the spirit of “power and love and self-control.” In the end, I am called to an unashamed “holy life,” which will not be fashioned by anything that I do myself, but which has already been given me by a loving Father through the redemptive action of the Son and the constant presence of the Spirit. How liberating! I don’t have to make myself holy because holiness has already been won for me, because a holy life has already been given me.
Today, I seek to live out my holiness simply by approaching everyday
occurrences with that power and love and self-control by which I hope to
follow Christ in my world. I encourage a student disappointed by
the results of a summer course’s examination. I rejoice in the satisfied
gurgling of a newborn grandson. I notice the unrivalled beauty of
the summer’s first rose. I apologize to my aging father for becoming
so busy that I forgot his birthday this year. I enjoy a glass of
beer in honor of the feast day of St. Boniface, bishop, martyr, apostle
to Germany and patron saint of brewers, a truly holy man of tireless service
and courage. And I go to bed prayerfully grateful for all that I’ve
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