“Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

The second reading today comes from Paul’s second letter to Timothy (1:6-8, 13-14).  Taken from some of the earliest sentences in this epistle, Paul reminds Timothy from the outset, before saying anything else, that the latter has the Holy Spirit within him and that he should tap into that charism to avoid any chance of cowardice.  Rather, power, love, and self-control are the rule, giving him the strength to speak the truth (i.e., “the sound words you heard from me” — v. 13) and bear with its accompanying hardships (see above).

Sharing the gospel can be very challenging.  Might I lose friends and family (see Mt 10:37)?  What are the right words to move hearts (Lk 12:11-12)?  Do I even understand it well enough to convey it properly (see Acts 8:30-31 and 2 Tim 3:16-17)?  I am not living it perfectly (maybe far from it) — who am I to preach to others?  Of course we should be constantly reforming our lives, conforming them to Christ, by eliminating sin and vice and growing in holiness.  This is the best method of and the greatest tool for evangelization.  But it doesn’t stop there.  By virtue of our baptism we are children of God and have the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  Confirmation strengthened that.  We are called to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).  This is our duty as Christians.  A command, not a request.  What should we expect in return?  Nothing.  If hardship comes our way, we count on the Holy Spirit for help: “a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2).  But, whatever comes of our work for God, always remember the words from today’s gospel reading, in the wisdom of the Church so appropriately paired with the epistle above, in which Jesus says: “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do'” (Lk 17:10).  Such humility safeguards all the virtues and conforms us to a Savior who is the exemplar of meekness and who works through our lowliness to achieve His ends.

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