St. Paul has quite a bit to say in today’s passage from the First Letter to the Thessalonians.
First, he reminds them that he preached in the face of great opposition. Second, he asserts that his motives were pure. He claims that he was trying to please God. He insists that he has not been guilty of flattery or greed. He does not preach for human glory; then he slips in an aside telling them that he could claim it if he wanted to do so. He calls himself gentle and desirous of sharing their lives.
Each of these statements is enough to sit with and consider in and of its own rather than trying to grasp it all in one reading. However, putting them all together gives us a fairly good picture of what kind of preacher he was. The one thing that sticks out for me is that he definitely did not see himself as a “people pleaser.” He could have, if he had wanted to, preached in such a way that he would have been well received in all quarters. If he had preached what most people wanted to hear, he would have been showered with compliments and gifts. Yet we know that he was resolute in preaching the Gospel that had been given to him rather than one of his own making.
Everyone likes to be liked. It is only human. No one wants to be on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, that is not always possible if we are honest about the Gospel. We cannot water down what Jesus has told us through the evangelists, nor can we teach anything other than what the Church has proclaimed. Unfortunately, all too many have done just that.
The Eucharist reminds us of what happened to Jesus because of the message he preached. The same thing happened to all the apostles and many of the early Christians. We cannot approach the altar to eat and drink his Body and Blood without realizing that in doing so we are proclaiming his death and professing his Resurrection from the dead.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator