Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Reflection Posted Several Days Late...

If you had been aboard a ship that, encountering a hurricane or an iceberg had sunk, do you think you would ever set out on another ship again?  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.  Suppose you did risk it a second time and again your ship went down, and you only survived after having spent the night in the water, and the whole next day, too, before you were rescued.  Would you ever have a third go at it?

St. Paul did, many times (and was shipwrecked a third time!), all for love of you and me and everyone to whom he was bringing the best news the world could ever hear.

When I first passed the town of Berea, where the mountains begin, and saw how high and steep and rugged they are, and thought of the Holy Apostle crossing them on foot to reach Athens, I was moved to tears at such magnificent love, that would undertake such a hardship.  But that was nothing, compared with what else he endured to bring us the Truth:

From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?  (2 Corinthians 11:24-29)

The churches he founded here in Thessaloniki, in Berea, in Athens, survive to this day, and this incomprehensible love, Christ's own Love shining in St. Paul, is why his work took root. It is also why we honor him on this, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

In honoring and even venerating saints, we are always honoring and venerating Christ, recognizing Who it was, reigning in their hearts and acting in their flesh and blood.