This Sunday we leave behind the letter to the Philippians and begin to hear passages from the First Letter to the Thessalonians – the earliest written text in our New Testament.
Most scholars hold that the letter was written – in Corinth – between years 49-51AD.
We will continue to hear extracts from this letter on Sundays until the end of this Liturgical year (except on the feasts of All Saints and of Christ the King).
In its way the letter which focuses on the Second Coming of Christ and how we respond to that, live mindful of that – anticipates some of the themes of early Advent.
Paul writes to the Church in Thessalonika, a Church established by him as he began his ministry in Europe, perhaps one or two years previously.
That Church is now challenged from within and without. Paul writes to offer them assurance and encouragement to hold fast to what they have been taught, what they have received from him and his co-workers.
- To whom have you recently offered encouragement?
- Who has offered you encouragement and reassurance?
- To what effect?
Second reading for the Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)
1.1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
~ Commentary: © 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph: © 2006, Allen Morris. Hagia Sophia, Thessaloniki.