Thursday, April 15, 2021

Labor et Fatigatio | Laboring and Toiling

“…On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.”– 2Thessalonians 3: 8



 

“You don’t work – You don’t eat”. I am sure you have heard this saying before and usually it is directed to lazy people. Apparently, it was the same idea in Paul’s day. Apostle Paul, the man who wrote 13 books in the Bible, who received a direct revelation from God himself, who was a leading missionary to Asia Minor, was encouraging believers in the church to work hard. Paul could have his salary paid by the church. The church could provide all his needs, but it wasn't his way. Instead, he worked and he told them to do the same, to work an honest job, to toil and drop sweat and to earn a living.

In the context, we can tell that there were some busybodies in the church who loved to gossip and to cause a raucous within the church. Paul warned the church members about these people and to stay away from them. In fact, he told them to “keep away” from these. Why is it? It is simple, when you are just laying around doing nothing, there are millions of possibilities that the devil may use these moments to creep into your live. There’s an old saying “An idle hand is the tool work of the devil”. There’s a lot of truth in this saying. If you go to the area where the unemployment number is high, then most likely, you will find the high rate of crime in that area.

I was just thinking of Paul as one of the great apostles of Christ who had to work in order to support his own ministry. How about us? I thought Paul set a great example for us as a believer to follow. In a world, where there are a lot of schemes to get rich quickly, the Word of God calls us to work an honest work for our living. Especially as a believer, it is okay to “have a sweat upon your brows”, to get tired after long hours at work. It is a part of living in this cursed world.

So brothers and sisters, let us roll our sleeves and get them done. Whether it is at home or at work, let us be a productive person that gives glory and honor to God through our work. I close with this verse, “So whether you eat or drink, do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). God bless us. Amen.

 

Reflection on 2Thessalonians 3: 6-18 by Pst. Devy Nanlohy


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Non Alligatum | Not in Chains

“The word of God is not in chains.” - 2 Tim 2: 9





God the Father chose us to be his adopted sons and daughters in Jesus Christ. It is a great gift and proof of God's love. We know how fragile and weak human nature is. We experience our weaknesses, sins, and falls, etc. Obviously, we'd like to be strong children, prudent, wise, even perfect.

Apostle Paul encourages us to become like soldiers of Christ. It's very interesting as we realize that he was a sinful and weak person too. But after his conversion, Paul was sure that his strength comes from Jesus. He was ready to suffer and accept all the difficulties. His only wish was to be united with Jesus Christ. He was always on "active service" (v.4), "obeyed the rules" (v.5), and "worked hard" (v.6) for the sake of his Master. 

Surely, I am also to follow the example of Apostle Paul. Consequently, I need to be more open and ask the Lord to enable me with grace. I do remember that Jesus was raised from death and now lives in me. He chose me not because I was an extraordinary man or superman. He saw me as a weak and sinful creature who is in need of salvation. Thus, he helped me to overcome my weaknesses. And now I am ready to preach the Good News even so I know how poor I am. 

Thanks to his divine power, through my words and actions, the word of God can be proclaimed all over the world. My only purpose is so many people "may obtain the salvation that comes through Christ Jesus and brings eternal glory" (v.12). Amen.

  

 

Reflection on 2 Timothy 2: 1-12 by Fr. J√≥zef Trzebuniak SVD.

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Vocatio | Calling

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfil every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” - 2Thessalonians 1: 11-12




The persecution of Christians has occurred since the 1st century. In the first passage of 2Thessalonians, Paul encouraged Thessalonians to endure the persecution and sufferings. We know, every human being – since Adam and Eve, the Thessalonians in the 1st century or we in 21st century – undergoes pain, distress and hardship. The Bible tells us that suffering makes people’s faith grow more and more.

Paul taught us to endure the suffering by focusing on the goal. What is a Christian’s goal? It is to walk worthy of the calling of God (verse 11). How do we be worthy of his calling? By the grace of God and Lord Jesus Christ, it gives us the power to resolve for good and act by the faith (verse 11).

Paul said that if we trust in the power of God, we could not simply let the life flows. We have to make a decision firmly of what we want. It is like a blind man Bartimaeus from Jericho (Mark 10). Long story short, when Jesus met him he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus knew exactly what Bartimaeus wanted, didn’t he? But he asked him anyway. He wanted him to decide and utter it. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” He made a decision.

Brother and sister, to decide something is one story, to act accordingly is another story. For the act of faith, we should learn from the action of the bleeding woman in the Bible. At any cost, she touched Jesus’ cloak and was healed (Mark 5).

Reflect on Paul’s letter, Bartimaeus and the bleeding woman’s story, our part to do is to resolve our resolution in faith and take the act of faith in God’s power that given freely by the grace of God and Lord Jesus Christ.

What is the result of this way of life or thinking? It is that God and Jesus be glorified in us, and we be glorified in Him (verse 12). This work is done by God actually, not us. Grace of God and Lord Jesus Christ give the power to our faith and work together with our decisions and willingness. Then it will lead to God and Jesus be glorified in us and we in him.

Dear brothers and sisters, some questions for our reflection today: Do we know what God’s calling for us? Do we need to resolve something to walk worthy in his calling? What acts of faith do we need to do? Even if tomorrow looks dark and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, what acts of faith do we need to do?

Brothers and sisters, let the grace and power of God and Lord Jesus Christ lead us to fulfil his calling. To God be the glory. God bless us.

  

 

Reflection on 2Thessalonians 1: 1-12 by Veralin Uneputty

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Filii Lucis | Children of the Light

“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.” – 1 Thessalonians 5: 5 (NLT)



 

This passage talks about the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. It is said that He will come like a thief. Unexpected and will cause a sudden disaster for those who live in the darkness. It also gives an analogy as when a pregnant woman labor pains start. Even when the doctor has predicted the labor time, we would never know the exact time. We could only do some preparations but the pain comes surprisingly, inevitably, and it surely increases to the max. Briefly, that day must be something terrifying.

But verse 4 and 5 say that it would not be a surprise for Children of light and day, but on the contrary for those who belong to the darkness and night. Who are these children of light who are not afraid of the Lord ’s day – when Jesus comes? We might think that they have to be people who have a perfect life, not much struggle against sin and considered good in general.  John Gill’s commentary on this explains that they are “enlightened persons, whose understandings were enlightened by the spirit of God, to see their lost state by nature, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the insufficiency of their righteousness to justify them before God, the fullness, suitableness, and excellency of Christ's righteousness, the way of salvation by Christ, and that it is all of grace from first to last”.

God loves the humble ones. People who love God, try hard to please him, but soon understand that it is so easy for them to fall into sin and break the heart of God. They grieve, mourn and weep over their hopeless state. They consider themselves unworthy. These are the people who will be exalted by God (James 4: 6-10). 

So Apostle Paul said that we must be on guard, not asleep, stay alert and be clearheaded. We are protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing the confidence of our salvation as our helmet (verses 6-8). That means, we do our job – to have faith in God and have love to share as we have received from him; while God does his. He holds us up with his salvation which is forever and never fails for those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Be careful when we think that we are good enough - when we are self-sufficient and feel that we are not like other people who are sinful and weak. We could easily be deceived with our self-righteousness. We block the light of God to enter and shine over our true self. Come under his light as we don’t want to be considered as the children of darkness and night.

Let’s encourage and build one another up, as we are already doing. For God saves us through the Lord Jesus Christ not to pour his anger on us, but so that we can live with him forever (verses 9-11). Rejoice my brothers and sisters! May God help us all. Amen.

 

Reflection on 1Thessalonians 5: 1-11 by Desire Litaay


  

Friday, April 9, 2021

Sanctificatio | Be Sanctified

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.” – 1Thessalonians 4: 3




Do we fulfill every promise of love for ourselves, others, and God? No love relationship is always smooth and sincere. There are always challenges and obstacles that would cause us experiencing or causing conflicts. We often come to a point where our loyalty and love are tested: do we remain faithful amidst challenges and trials that come and go? Do we accept challenges in love stories as a commonplace in a relationship or do we choose to turn away and end the relationship? It all depends on us, how to reflect and see all the possibilities and aspects of all events that come our way. Paul in his counsel to the Thessalonians emphasized the sanctification of the body in an honorable way by avoiding sexual immorality.

Now days, it is very difficult to keep true to a marriage vow or an eternal promise. There are too many temptations and trials that test our faith. Everyone has their own meaning in responding to every challenge that comes. Whether the test is a disaster that destroys our relationship or one that ripens our relationship with the people we love. Is it a test that destroys our relationship or a test that completes our pledge of allegiance to our vocation of religious life? 

It is not easy to survive when challenges come our way. Sometimes we realize that as weak human beings, we are fragile, weak, and like to give up easily. In my personal reflection, I find that I give up when I don't put my hopes in God, or when I demand the answers to my prayers to be quick. Sometimes we leave God because we feel that being faithful is too difficult; also because our prayers have not been answered. We waited too long.

Indeed, loyalty to guard every choice we make and defend it is not an easy matter. Everything is a process and a test for all of us whether we keep our marriage vows or eternal promises to live happily. We must always reflect that there is no choice without challenges! All choices always have consequences. In the end, every choice to keep a sacred promise is a very noble thing! When we become stronger in maintaining our relationships with other people and especially with God, we will always smile at the end of every struggle in our life.

At the end of my reflection, I ask for prayers from all of us for all victims of natural disasters in East Nusa Tenggara. Even though material help is difficult to distribute because we are far apart, let us help with our prayers. May God grant strength and health to those who are still alive, those who involve in this disaster and an eternal rest for those who have died. This is an act of our love and loyalty to our fellow humans and the glory of God's name.


Reflection on 1Thessalonians 4:1-11 by Sandre Loreng, SVD

(Listen to the podcast here)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Gloria Et Gaudium | Glory and Joy

“Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” - 1Thessalonians 2: 20





My dear brothers and sisters, what makes us rejoice?  Because we’ve got something?  So if we don't get what we want, does that joy disappear?  If so, what kind of joy do we Christians today need? 

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul showed his joy.  Because of what?  Because his wish was fulfilled?  No, it wasn't. Precisely, the joy came from outside of him.  What was that?  Paul rejoiced because of the spiritual growth of the church.  The Thessalonians received, lived, and practiced God's word.  They were not only hearers of the word but they were also the doers of the word. 

Here we can see that Paul rejoiced not because of material things but more spiritual.  Therefore, it was this spiritual joy in him that ultimately made him ignore everything he had ever experienced such as fatigue, distress, and suffering.  All of them were replaced with abundant spiritual joy.

Brothers and sisters, how about us?  What joy do we have today?  Our joy, of course, is not just a matter of good or bad but more than that.  Our joy appears when we live the Word of God seriously.  And of course, the power of God's word will change our lives for the better. 

Then, after we experience the power of God's word, we also must try to show it out.  In what way?  By becoming leaders, teachers, workers, employees, and students who always radiate love, do justice, fight for the truth, strive for kindness, and are willing to pay attention to those who are weak and marginalized. Amen, –

 

 

Reflection on 1Thessalonians 2: 13 – 20 by Fr Risco Batbual, SVD

 (Listen to the Podcast here)

 


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Probati Sumus | Those Approved

“ _But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the gospel, that is how we speak, not as trying to please human beings, but rather God, who judges our hearts.” - 1Thessalonians 2: 4

 



Saint Paul was a faithful Gentiles who lived and acted according to the law of God that he had received from his ancestors since he was young. But on the day when God chose him, he offered all his being and effort to proclaim the gospel to every nation. We also know that his ministry was not easy and was subjected to many obstacles and rejections. Nevertheless, Saint Paul also tried to assure us that his ministry was not to profit from misleading people, not trying to please human beings, but rather God, who judges our hearts.

 

It was not only in the days of Saint Paul, but it is also, today. Maybe not much, but there is. In society, our services are sometimes thought to win people's sympathy, to profit, or sometimes are perceived as to Christianize or ensnare others.  But the purpose of each service is that others may experience God’s love and goodness, to create communities that tolerate one another without discrimination of tribes, backgrounds, and beliefs.

 

Then, we as followers of Christ must courageously deny all our egos and dare to bear every cross of life that we experience. We must venture out of our comfort zones to proclaim joyful tidings for others, even though we will be rejected or even opposed. God bless.



Reflection on 1Thessalonians 2: 1-12 by Sr. Maria Venidora SND
(Listen to the Podcast here)