The First Reading is from a letter Saint Paul wrote to the Church in Thessalonica. (2 Thessalonians) Being a port city in Greece, I imagine that the Church there was filled with fishermen, merchants, sailors, and shop keepers. With the warmth of the sun and the smell of the ocean surrounding them, the men, women, and children of Thessalonica soaked up Paul's words as their priest read them.
Personally, I sometimes struggle to follow Paul through his run-on sentences, but I wonder what power his words held for the Thessalonians. When they heard Paul’s greeting, were they filled with thanksgiving? Did they smile at his words, remembering how he gestured and spoke? There seems to be a real depth of love and friendship in his message, a true pride in how their Church was flourishing, and a sincere hope that for their own sake and the glory of God, they would continue to grow in their faith.
I wonder what a letter from Saint Paul to the Church in my town would be like. I live in a town of 16,000 people, which is surrounded by bean and corn fields. Our parish is made up of farmers, engineers, teachers, and medical professionals. What message would he have for us? Would he be proud of our faith? Would he see my parish as flourishing? Would he inspire others by telling them of how we endure our sufferings?
And what about you? Maybe your town is a bustling city like Thessalonica or a small town nested in the heartlands like mine, but no matter where you live, what of your parish? What would Saint Paul say to you? Is your local church thriving? Are you and your friends growing in your faith?
The beauty is that this letter is meant for us, too. Maybe we need to step up in our parish and faith lives, but maybe we likewise need reassurance of the saints’ presence in our lives. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy are praying for us, praising God for us, and cheering us on to Heaven.
May we be worthy of their friendship.
Are you helping and giving of your time and talents in your community? How can you do more of that?
Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker, and homemaker. She, her husband, and seven children live in central Illinois, and her son’s alleged miraculous healing through the intercession of Venerable Fulton Sheen was submitted to the Vatican for Sheen’s beatification. Bonnie pretends she has a green thumb, bakes a fantastic chocolate chip cookie, loves naps and chai tea, and blogs. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of the Blessed Conversations Mystery: Believe study found here.