Second reading for Sunday’s Mass

This coming Sunday the Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul displaces the celebration of the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

We honour Peter and Paul not only as Apostles but also as martyrs – thus the red vestments stipulated for the Mass.

The theme of martyrdom is very much to the fore in the Second reading, taken from St Paul’s first letter to Timothy.

Etymologically our English word ‘Martyrdom’ is derived from the Greek word Greek: μάρτυς, (mártys), which means witness. However from early on, in Christian tradition, the word becomes a technical term, reserved for those who witness to the point of death at the hands of enemies of the faith.

Paul will be martyred, traditionally during the time of Nero. But in this scripture passage he already describes his life as a form of martyrdom, his life being poured out in service of the Gospel. But his life will not end, he says, when the last drop is offered. The Lord will rescue him and bring him safely to the heavenly kingdom.

Jesus began his ministry saying the kingdom of God is close at hand. There has been a certain movement in terminology by the time of this letter – a looking forward to a heavenly kingdom, to be accessed after death.

There need not be a tension between these two ‘kingdoms’ but we do need to keep hold of both.

To focus on life beyond this temporal life may lead us to be careless about the way in which Jesus clearly understands people can begin to live something of kingdom life here and now – by living lives faithful to the will of God, open to sharing with others the love of God.

To live life as if life here was all there is likely to lead to a view of life which limits it to the temporal, the here and now, and (for a person who seeks to be a person of faith) an unhealthy preoccupation with what we can do and careless of what God might be offering)

  • To which attitude do you tend?
  • Are you able to keep a healthy balance?
  • If so what helps you do that?

1 Timothy 4.4-8; 17-18

4.6  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing…

17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

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