I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient;
convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
2 Tim 4:1,2
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We hear again St. Paul’s word to Timothy proclaimed on Sunday, October 16 which is so relevant to us today. St. Paul addresses the moral depravity and false teaching that were expected for the ‘end time’ but were already at work. The frivolous and superficial, too, devoid of the true spirit of religion, are easy victims of those who pervert them by falsifying the truth. St. Paul tells Timothy as he does us, to be steadfast to what he has been taught and to Scripture. The Scriptures are the source of wisdom; of belief in and loving fulfillment of God’s Word revealed in Christ, through Whom Salvation is given. God is the principal Author of Scripture, with the writer as the human collaborator. The Scriptures are the Word of God in human language.
St. Paul’s charge to St. Timothy and to us is quite a responsibility; proclaim the Word, be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Some of us compartmentalize our faith. We reserve it for Sunday worship; but we are silent in a conversation involving gossip. We participate in daily prayer with our children; but we take them to sports events instead of Sunday Mass. We pray that we are safe in a hurricane; but we forget to pray in thanksgiving for the blessings we receive each day. Have we become devoid of the true spirit of religion?
St. Paul doesn’t stop as just proclaiming the Word. He also says we are to “convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” Our voices must be heard over the din of secularism. Our voices must be heard consistently and constantly over the din of minimizing the sacredness of life, the lack of sacramentality in our relationships, the perversion toward convenience and disposability.
I have spoken to you before about Faith Fit app and Faith Fit Radio; two important tools which offer minute by minute access to prayer, reflection and Scripture. I produce a weekly e-scroll with many tools available to assist us as we convince, reprimand, and encourage our families, friends, and co-workers of our faith and the importance of living through, with, and in our triune God.
I have spoken to you often about the importance of the celebration of Mass and the wondrous gift to participate in the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith.
Pope Francis said, “The Sacraments express and realize an effective and profound communion among us, for in them we encounter Christ the Savior and, through him, our brothers and sisters in faith. . . . When we celebrate the Eucharist it is the living Jesus who brings us together, forms us into a community, allows us to adore the Father. Each one of us, in fact, through Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, is incorporated into Christ and united to the entire community of believers. Therefore, if on the one hand it is the Church that “makes” the Sacraments, on the other, it is the Sacraments that “make” the Church, that build her up, by generating new children, by gathering them into the holy people of God, by strengthening their membership.”
Recently, a beautiful priest and rector of St. James Cathedral, Father John McCormick, died. Father John McCormick lived his life convincing, reprimanding and encouraging people to follow their faith. Some people didn’t like what Father John would say. Some came back to the church because of what he said. One couple was with child and was told by the doctor the possibility of the child being born with deficiencies. The couple came to speak with Father John who changed his schedule so that he could meet with them. Father John spoke the truth. The child was carried to birth. Now the couple has two healthy, beautiful children, both baptized by Father John McCormick. If you live your faith, others will notice and follow.
St. Mother Teresa was one who brought the Gospel alive by her selfless giving. In her humbleness, she brought forth the meaning of the Gospel in a profound way and taught all of us about the gift of God’s Mercy. St. Mother Teresa exemplified to the entire world what dedication to prayer, love, and persistence in faith could accomplish.
If you are thinking that you could not be like a priest or a saint; that you are limited in your ability to follow St. Paul’s instruction, I suggest you think again. Father John McCormick and Mother Teresa both began just like you. Their faith was the core of their being, 24,7,365 all the days of their life. We must see our own actions in the light of the sacredness of each other and God’s judgment. It is our choice.
May we remain faithful to what we have learned and believe.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend John Noonan
Bishop of Orlando