2 Timothy 1:1-8
From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus in his design to promise life in Christ Jesus; to Timothy, dear child of mine, wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.
Night and day I thank God, keeping my conscience clear and remembering my duty to him as my ancestors did, and always I remember you in my prayers; I remember your tears and long to see you again to complete my happiness. Then I am reminded of the sincere faith which you have; it came first to live in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I have no doubt that it is the same faith in you as well.
That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or shamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good news, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy.
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. cure those in it who are sick, and say, ‘The kingdom of God is very near to you’”.
As I read today’s gospel reading, what strikes me immediately is that Jesus did not send out 72 people to go out and convert people. Rather, he sent them out to go and prepare the people to receive him. That is indeed what we, as disciples of Christ, are called to do. Our role as Christians is not to go out and convert people, as some Christians try to do. Rather, our role is to prepare people to receive Christ into their lives.
We can teach people all we want about Christianity, tell them the significance of Original Sin and baptism, tell them about heaven and hell, and so on, but if we do not reflect Christ to them, then all that we tell them is meaningless. This is why Jesus told his disciples to say, ‘The kingdom of God is very near to you’ rather than ‘The kingdom of God is here’.
In the gospel reading, we see Jesus telling the 72 disciples that they are to give a greeting of peace to any house that they enter. If a man of peace stays there, the peace that the disciples carry will go and rest on them. In English, the word “peace” is insufficient to describe the full meaning of the Hebrew word “shalom”. It means more than external peace, like the kind we have in Singapore. It also means “inner peace” – the kind a person has when his conscience is clean.
A man of such peace is a man of God, whether he knows it or not, because we are judged according to our conscience. If our conscience is clean, it generally means that we are free from sin, although this extends further than what is written in this reflection. The bottom line is that a man of such peace is one who is ready to receive Christ in their lives.
If Christ comes to a person who lacks this inner peace, this “shalom”, it is likely that the person will not be able to recognise Christ for who he really is, for Christ is the fulfilment of what that peace promises. It is easy to see then that when we are sinful, that is, when our conscience is not clean, we find it hard to receive Christ into our lives, especially in Holy Communion, because it will be hard to see Christ for who he really is.
If, however, we have Christ in our lives, then truly, the kingdom of God is here for us. Being a subject of the kingdom of God implies that we are God’s subjects, meaning that we do not do our own will, but we do God’s will. So long as the kingdom of God is not here for us, we are still our own kings, and we will therefore seek to do our own will instead of God’s.
So if you find that you are doing your own will instead of God’s, then it is an indication that Christ is not truly in your lives. It will be helpful to find out what is preventing God’s kingdom from reigning in us. This is also an indication that our conscience is not as clear as we think it to be. Our conscience doesn’t lie even though we sometimes lie to ourselves.
When we find what is bothering our conscience and we take care of it, we will then have inner peace. When we have inner peace, we will then be ready to receive Christ into our lives. When we receive Christ into our lives, it means that the kingdom of God is here for us. When the kingdom of God is here for us, we will do God’s will.
Dear Jesus, help us to examine our consciences and see what is obstructing us from having that inner peace that is rich soil to receive you into our lives. Grant us the courage to face within ourselves what it is that prevents us from surrendering our will to you. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Honesty, which is always painful, but necessary to obtain inner peace.
Filed under: Daily Reflections