Written by Sr. Rosemary, O.P.
Readings from: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082719.cfm
All this week we are reading what is probably the oldest book in the New Testament, i.e., Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. Of all the letters Paul wrote, Thessalonians is believed his very first one which he penned just a little over 20 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. In it, Paul writes to the people whom he grew to love dearly, who were now suffering for their faith, and who needed his words encouragement and comfort.
Thessalonica was located in what is now northern Greece and we know that Paul spent 3 weeks there preaching about Christ. Because of that preaching, many Gentiles became Christians. However, because others did not accept his teaching, Paul was forced to leave the city. After he left, he worried about the new Christian community, so he sent Timothy back to check things out. The news was good: even though this new community was being persecuted, they were staying strong in their faith and love.
Paul gently encourages this congregation to have confidence and says they should go about their daily lives in a calm, responsible and loving manner. He points out in our reading today the importance of being a good example. How one lives one’s Christian life does affect others. By giving good example, we strengthen one another in our faith and show others that we acknowledge something beyond ourselves…a God who is one, true and living. Paul says that he and his companions, Timothy and Silvanus, who ministered with him in Thessalonica, tried to be those good examples to the people, when he says: “We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves.”
Today we honor St. Monica, a mother who certainly showed the good example that Paul is talking about, a mother who urged, encouraged, and even pleaded with her wayward son to live a life worthy of God. Because her husband criticized her piety, her mother-in-law cantankerous, and her son wayward, St. Monica could have understandably become an angry wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, but she did not give way to any of these. She was, instead, a woman who was patient and who prayed and fasted for years for all her family. Monica’s prayers and example finally converted her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died one year after his baptism. Her son also changed his ways and we now know him as the great St. Augustine.
St. Monica can be for us that good example that Paul talks about today. We can learn from Monica’s example of patience, forbearance and praying for others, especially those who hurt us. Perhaps today we can think about ways we can be examples of faith to others, as Monica was in her life. How can we witness Christ by our words and deeds, by our Christlike attitude and values?
St. Monica, model of praying persistently for others, pray for us.