October 12, 2016

Proclaim the Word "Through All Patience." Reflection for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

St. Paul preaching in Berea

The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 16, 2016

Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois

Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8

"Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching." 2 Tm 4:2

It is the call of every Christian to make his faith the center of his life. Period. Faith lives at the core of the human person and from it the Christian seeks direction for all decisions in life. In Baptism, the human person was set on a journey that will end in seeing God face to face. It was a rebirth in the waters of faith. The rest of the Christian’s life is spent responding to God’s gracious call to holiness. Fundamental decisions of one’s life are made through faith as well as the smaller day-to-day decisions the person must make. Faith is like the hub of a wheel. As spokes go forth from that hub, so faith penetrates all parts of a person’s life.

The Christian will use her faith to discern God’s will for the major movements of her life. Faith has an influence on her next job, relationship, or move. However, it is not only at the major turning points of life that faith is invoked. Actually, the Christian uses his faith more in his daily living than in major decision points. Faith is grounded in life. Each person is inserted into a family, workplace, school, or some kind of community with others. The question that follows is this: How will I live my faith in this situation, with these people, today? What does my faith teach me about treating others, most especially those whom I may dislike? Faith is not a theory that exists in the clouds; it is a lived experience in the here and now. Jesus teaches His disciples how to live in the world with one eye looking beyond the world to God. Life with God is the ultimate influence upon one’s life.

The instructions given to Timothy are to help him to continue in his ministry. All of the necessary elements for ministry and living the gospel are found in that one sentence: proclaim the word ... persistent ... convenient ... inconvenient ... convince ... reprimand ... encourage ... patience ... teaching. As stated above, the Christian is called to proclaim the word. In this instance, "proclaiming" is not so much about words as it is deeds. Live the word. Show others the word through your life. Remember, the Gospel of John calls Jesus the "Word." In living, proclaiming, and showing others the word, the Christian is actually proclaiming the Word, who is Jesus. And that’s what matters!

Persistence in proclaiming that Word when convenient is not hard; when inconvenient, the human person struggles. On a large scale, the Church stays true to her message of the dignity of human life and the teachings of Jesus. Part of what has helped the Church be so persistent is that the teaching does not depend on any one person to deliver it. Popes, bishops, priests, and laity all come and go; the message remains strong and is consistent when convenient and inconvenient. On a much smaller scale, each individual is to do the same in his life. The Christian proclaims the Word in her day-to-day activities of work, school, and home. For example, the dignity of human life is proclaimed each time the individual person treats another with respect and kindness. The same person is proclaiming the Word when trying to live her faith in the face of persecution of all kinds.

In conclusion, Paul makes it clear to Timothy that he is to proclaim the Word "through all patience." This is the most important part of these instructions! Growth in the Spirit is a lifelong journey, in which great patience is needed. The one who proclaims the Word needs patience in dealing with the one being taught. This is a human enterprise, and humans are notoriously slow to understand, accept, and implement the Word of God in their lives. Christians are to proclaim the Word without being judgmental. So, as Paul tells Timothy so he tells you and me to go forth, proclaim the Word, live your faith, treat others with respect and kindness, and do it all with patience and love. Thus faith is the center of the Christian’s life, and from that center he radiates Christ’s love to all whom he meets.

Questions for private reflection …

1. Are you able to say for certain that faith is the center of your life?

2. Has faith had an influence in your day-to-day activities of work, school, and home?

3. Do you proclaim the Word when inconvenient? Are you patient with others in this process?

Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois, "Living the Word: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time", Vermont Catholic (October 2013). Reprinted with permission from the author.

Rev. Msgr. Bernard W. Bourgeois is the Pastor of Christ the King, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Patrick Parishes in Rutland, VT.

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