Feast of Saint Luke
2 Timothy 4: 17
Luke 10: 1-9
"But the Lord stood by me and gave me help…"
Paul is a very honest man. His letter to Timothy shares his disappointments. We can see Paul has a dear friend in the person of Timothy by calling him, "beloved." And to whom do we usually answer honestly when we are asked, "How are you doing?" It’s to a close friend. It’s usually a close friend who knows us inside and out. The "others" usually only know the "out". Thank God for the close friends who help us to be true to our total self.
Paul is taking it on the chin as he directs his efforts to evangelize both the Jews and the Gentiles. He had to be a challenge to them all. His fellow Jews see and hear him proclaiming that Jesus is the promised Messiah whom the Prophets had talked about. In fact, Jesus is the incarnate Son of God. Through Paul the Jews are being called to listen, to think, to decide, to accept Jesus. This would come to be an ongoing challenge to them. Paul, himself, will experience much pain, rejection, and death out of his love for Jesus. The early Christians had who had accepted and followed Jesus, had to take a deep breath as they listened to this man, Paul, who had persecuted and thrown them into prison.
A quick insight comes into view: conversion is an ongoing experience of listening, thinking, deciding and accepting and the willingness to keep moving even though the mirror in front of us shows that our hair has grown gray, and we are holding on to the sink in front of us as we gaze at the figure in the mirror. Some would immediately say…"Oh, let the truth set you free." The truth can do this but sometimes it’s accompanied with pain and sorrow and tears. Why? Commitment and ongoing growth will bring us into new life situations, new insights, that challenge both the preacher and the preached to. This is Paul’s story. It is also ours. But it is not without the presence of a loving Friend in the person of Jesus who gently encourages, "Come…take up your cross and follow me. Let’s walk together."
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P. is on the staff of Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, Houston, Texas.