1 Timothy 6:2c-12
But you, man of God, avoid all this.
Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life,
to which you were called when you made the noble confession
in the presence of many witnesses.
Ever have the annoying question hit you: "What if…this or that happened to me? How would I deal with it?" I know that we realize that the "What if’s…" in our lives take us out of the present dealing with ""What is…" Paul so wisely advises Timothy to pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. This will help him to deal with what is bothering the early Christian community.
Smile with me, pray for me. A while ago, I went out to California to take some needed vacation time residing at our Passionist Community in Sacramento. On my second day out there Fr. Richard Parks, C.P. was hospitalized to undergo a five artery by-pass surgery on his heart. Because several of his Community members were gone I gently slipped into supporting him during his recovery for a week. It was beautiful to watch the prayerful support he received from family and friends via phone calls and cards and a personal visit from a nephew and his fiancé. Faith, love, patience and gentleness gathered Fr. Richard in a warm embrace.
I then drove down to San Jose to visit with a dear couple. The husband had been with me in the College Seminary and Novitiate. He left in the Novitiate and proceeded to finish College, get married, join the Navy, get involved in nuclear physics and assist his wife in raising six kids. Arlie’s wife, Marie, has Alzheimer’s disease. If I have ever needed an example of faith, love, patience and gentleness in a married couple, I have experienced it in Arlie and Marie. Of course, it comes at this time through Arlie. But what comes through so beautifully and simply are the fond memories of a loving wife, mother and grandmother. His love for her has not diminished. His loving words, touches, kisses and hugs are freely given even though there may not be a response. He is fortunate that he can provide nursing aid here at home. He simply cannot put his wife in a nursing home. Faith, love, patience and the gentleness of Arlie has gathered Marie in his warm embrace.
That was a most interesting vacation. I really believe that I have experienced the gentleness and love of God in a way that I shall not forget. It didn’t come from reading. I saw it in action with Fr. Richard, and with Arlie and Marie. I guess I would tell Paul and Timothy: Paul, you were right on target then and also today.
Fr. Peter Berendt, C.P., is a member of St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.