Paul on Paul – 18th October 2020

Bible Heading - 1 Thessalonians

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time; Year A
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
From Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace.
We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as. power and as the Holy Spirit as utter conviction.

From the end of one letter last week, to the opening of another this week. Paul’s first letter to the Church in Thessalonica is estimated to have been written around 50AD. This letter is less focussed on the ‘heavy matters of faith’, and more to reassure the young Christian church that Paul himself had help establish (recorded in Acts). The passage for this Sunday highlights 2 important points that can help us with our own faith.

The first is that Paul implores the church to “…constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope…”. It is easier to say “I am a Catholic” than it is to follow that through in our actions. We are asked to “show our faith in action” in the world – at work, at home, at school wherever we are. We must always “work for love” in our lives – easier perhaps with our friends and immediate family members than with our enemies, but no distinction is made. We must always “preserve in hope” – knowing that by co-operating with God and His requests from us, a better life on earth can be won.

The second is a simple point, but one we can often forget: God loves you.

In 50AD, the Thessalonian Church was in a time of crisis. Only 20 years old or so, some of those Paul had personally converted to Christianity had died and ‘second-hand converts’ were asking question of the faith that those people could not answer – not unlike we can face ourselves. How many times can we feel unprepared in our own faith? In his letter Paul will offer (as we will see over the coming weeks) reassurance that our faith is more than words, but also comes “…as power” to undertake difficult tasks; “as utter conviction” to change our way of life to conform to God’s ways; but, most importantly, “as the Holy Spirit” – God himself.

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