The Power of Example

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

We find ourselves at the end of the very short second letter to the Thessalonians today. In the passage which is used for the first reading today, we find a powerful statement about the role of the Christian in today’s world. We wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. (2 Thes. 3:9bc)

Whether we use the word "model" or "example," the effect is the same. It is the vocation of every Christian to, like St. Paul, provide an example to those with whom we live and work. Our "preaching" is done through the way we live our lives.

Today’s reading also includes some "do nots." These admonitions were delivered to the Thessalonians because of the presence in the community of a certain faction of Christians who were trying to impose their view of the Gospel on others. Warning against such factions, St. Paul urges his followers to stay true to the Gospel which had initially drawn them to conversion in the first place.

Unfortunately, factions are still among us. In the time since my ordination in 1975, I have had the privilege of working with the administration of my Franciscan Province. I well remember one of the favorite sayings of the Provincial Minister for whom I worked. He would opine on what the Church and the Order could accomplish in the world if they were to spend more time spreading the Gospel and less time fighting one another over petty details. It is a notion that still needs to be heard.


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