|1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Psalm 139:1-3, 4-6
“[W]e are determined to share with you not only the Gospel
of God, but our very selves as well.” (I Thes 2:8)
“You have searched me and you know me, Lord.” (Ps 139:1)
“[You] have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment
and mercy and fidelity….You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside
they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.” (Mt 23:23, 25)
At first glance the readings today seem to be discouraging. Paul is
talking about the trials and persecutions that he and other early disciples
suffered at the hands of the Thessalonians, Jews and Gentiles alike.
Jesus continues his bitter denouncement of the scribes and Pharisees.
But Paul also tells us that it is by God’s grace that he and the other missionaries
are able to preach so successfully and with such freedom and power.
In bringing the conduct and attitude of the scribes and Pharisees to light,
Jesus exposes our own pitfalls. We are often scrupulous about minor
matters and neglect the greater ones. We are often more concerned about
appearances and opinions of others than what is in our heart and the purity
of our thoughts and intentions.
Anything and everything that is good about us -- in our nature, our natural
personality -- IS a gift from God, because we are made in God’s image. You
are a reflection of God -- we all are. Our natural abilities are natural
only because God put them within us by design and choice, as a reflection
of God’s nature for our benefit and for the benefit of the world.
And all of that true nature is only true because it's a gift from our Creator.
Everything that's natural -- everything we were born with -- because if God
hadn't chosen to give it to us, we wouldn't have it. THAT is the definition
Thomas Keating says, “The only way to preserve any gift of God is to give
it away.” Each of us have God given gifts that we are asked to share
with others. Paul received the great gifts of knowledge, understanding
and discourse from God and he lived his life by giving those gifts to others.
Jesus took on human existence so he could give his life for us. What an awesome
At the end of each Mass the celebrant says “Go now to love and serve the
Lord.” That is a declaration to go out and share our gifts with others.
What we do for others might not reverberate around the world, but even the
most simple undertaking, such as smiling at the bank clerk, is a gift.
Everything we do is extremely worthwhile and important to the ones we serve.
Go now to love and serve the Lord …by loving and serving each other.