The second reading on Sunday, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, has Paul name the good deeds of those who have begun to believe in the Gospel he preached and witnessed to.
You observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, and you were led to become imitators of us, and of the Lord; and it was with the joy of the Holy Spirit that you took to the gospel, in spite of the great opposition all round you. This has made you the great example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
We all need encouragement and affirmation, if we are to give of our best. Sometimes – as here – it can come from our leaders. At other times it can be offered by our peers. But if the encouragement is to be truly affirmation, an acknowledgement of what is good and true in us, then this doing what is right needs to be what we are doing and trying to do.
If we have been ‘servants of God’ for a long time it may be difficult to think what difference our faith makes to us. How do we know what do we do because it is ‘natural’ to us, and what do we do because of the more direct action of grace. Where does nature end and grace begin? The distinction may seem uncertain, and grace does build on nature, but it would be a little odd if one could not point to this or that and say ‘I do this because of my faith’, because of the urgings of grace.
- What decisions have you made recently that have been influenced by your faith?
- What decisions have you made, and actions taken, that you now regret were not influenced by your faith?
- Bring your thoughts and feelings to the living God, the God of mercy.