Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

June 6, 2012
by

Justin McCarthy

Senior, Medical Anthropology Major, Pre-Med

2 Tim 1:1-3, 6-12
Ps 123:1b-2ab, 2cdef
Mark 12:18-27

For today’s reflection I am going to focus on the first reading. When evaluating scripture it is always essential to consider the context. Through a contextual lens, scripture takes on a very different, and oftentimes more relevant, note. Paul wrote The Second Letter to Timothy presumably from prison, and one gets the sense that Paul believes his time on Earth is coming to a close. As such, Paul seems to suggest to Timothy that he should prepare for others to replace himself just as Paul did. Thematically, this letter continues to urge Timothy to protect the early community against false teachings and to remain steadfast despite the threat of personal attacks or those who do not accept them. Before Christianity was called Christianity, it was called The Way. Paul, now in prison and soon to die for Christ, is encouraging Timothy to have fortitude, despite The Way being difficult. It is from this thought that I will reflect.

Although perhaps not a new understanding, this reminder may make light of these opening lines of Paul’s second letter to Timothy. So before continuing to read this, I would encourage all of you to reread the first reading. The first few lines of the reading are formalities. However, the rest of the reading follows proper forms of contemporary paper writing (which as a college student I am all too familiar with). Every effective paper begins with a Thesis and a rode map for organization purposes. You tell the reader what you are going to tell them, you tell them, then you tell them what you told them. In these first lines, Paul is prefacing what he would like to say:

Paul tells us that we have the gifts of: power, love and self-control (v 4). This is juxtaposed to the quality of cowardice. Cowardice is a lack of bravery. Bravery is courageous behavior. And courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. So if the transitive property applies to my MacBook dictionary, cowardice is the lack of strength in the face of pain or grief.

We should not be ashamed of our faith (v 5). Why, despite living in a country with a freedom of religion, is it uncomfortable to mention God in a conversation? Perhaps we have been more successful at secularizing church and state than we realize.

Paul’s letters to Timothy present the resurrection of Jesus as the heart of his teachings, as the foundation of the gospel, in which Paul has willingly gave his life for. A point he clearly orates in verses 6-8.

There is a viral video, which came out in January entitled “Why I hate religion but love Jesus.” While I can’t say I agree with all that he says, nor is it theologically sound on all levels, the purpose is valid. The Way calls us to more than a Facebook status and church on Sundays. The Way is a transformative lifestyle, not an after thought. The Way is neither glamorous nor comfortable, although we may try to make it so; but if we look at Christianity’s examples, they were all called to give their life: Peter, Paul, or even Jesus. These individuals epitomize power, love and self-control. They were not ashamed of their faith nor did they shy from those who chastised them. To be a Christian is to be radical.

Jesuit author, John Dear, describes Christ’s mission as a commitment to justice and peace from which “you will be hated and feared.” Father Dear thinks this is an aspect often overlooked in the Church, saying that it “promotes personal piety but not the pursuit of economic justice and social liberation.” Throughout the gospel Jesus sought those on the margin, he ate with them, he preached to them. This is our challenge to be powerful and loving, to willingly be uncomfortable and give our lives for The Way. Before this turns into a soapbox rant, I just want to challenge our pacified state of comfort with one last thought from Father Dear:

If we risk suffering and death with Jesus for the sake of biblical justice, we will share in its fulfillment and enter his resurrection in God’s reign of peace. Jesus was raised from the dead and, as we share in his struggle for justice and peace, so will we share in his resurrection victory.

My challenge, and every Christian’s challenge, is to be radical.



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