Day 353: Sharing the Gospel

1 Peter 3:1-7 While he did not challenge the authority that husbands had over their wives in Roman society, Peter spoke of the equal dignity and complementarity of husbands and wives. His counsel aims at the sanctification of marriage through prayer and the mutual example of the spouses. Women, many of whom had non believing spouses, were advised to move their husbands to conversion through their example of Christian charity and selfless spirit of service. They were to prefer the adornment of interior virtue to exterior beauty. Men, for their part, were charged with giving honor and respect to their wives in the knowledge that their role in giving charity was to help their wives attain holiness and eternal life.

Weaker sex: This phrase does not refer to moral and spiritual inferiority but rather a relative physical weakness. Husbands must treat their wives with particular gentleness lest they use their physical size and strength to abuse or intimidate their spouses. (CCC 369, 2204)

Ch 3:8-12 Charity (love) is the greatest of the theological virtues; it is the foundation of all moral virtues and the commandment that perfects the Ten Commandments. The hymn quoted here reiterates the truth that God always hears the prayers of the virtuous. (CCC 1092, 1669, 1890-1893, 1939)

Ch 3:3-17 Part of the mystery of evil is that good people suffer; included in this mystery is the connection between suffering and the blessings derived from it. The Lord clearly promised that his followers must be reconciled to some degree of suffering and perhaps persecution. Peter exhorts the Christians of his time to persevere in the truth. (CCC 1816, 2015)

Ch 3:18-22 Peter outlined the essential beliefs about Christ and the saving power of Baptism.

Preached to the spirits in prison: A reference to Christ’s descent into “Hell,” the abode of the dead who had not yet been raised and were awaiting redemption. It is a matter of faith that Christ brought the Good News of salvation to the souls that had died before him.

Baptism, which…now saves you: While the waters of the Flood cleansed the earth of wickedness, Noah, in faithful obedience to God’s will, was saved by means of the ark and entered into a covenant with God. In a similar manner, the waters of Baptism cleanse us from sin and give us the gift of sanctifying grace by which we obtain a new life in Christ. Furthermore, the baptized enter into the New Covenant of grace and charity. Thus, the ark is a type (TYPOLOGY!!), or figure, of the Church. May such typologies exist in Scripture, and, as St. Augustine taught, the Old Testament is revealed in the New, and the New Testament is concealed in the Old. (CCC 128, 632, 1094, 1219)

Ch 4:1-6 The baptized should have a spiritual outlook that transcends that of nonbelievers. Having been cleansed of sin, they are expected to put sin behind them and no longer to continue in their sinful habits of the past. Nonbelievers, who do not enjoy the gift of faith, will not understand this new way of living and will not understand the Christian commitment to the practice of moral virtues or their rejection of sinful behavior that in many instances is accepted by popular culture. (CCC 634, 1059)

Ch 4:7-11 End of all things: Otherwise called the “final age,” the “last days,” and other similar names. It refers not only to the end of the world at the Second Coming of Christ but also to the final phase of time that began with the fullness of God’s Revelation of his plan for salvation in the Incarnation of Christ. “The end of all things is at hand”; this does not mean the Final Judgment is imminent; rather, it can come at any time, and we must be constantly vigilant through prayer and faithful to Christ’s teaching.

Keep sane and sober for your prayers: A prudent, sober, and temperate lifestyle is indispensable for a true prayer life. (CCC 670, 673, 1806)

Ch 4:8 Love conquers a multitude of sins: Acts of charity serve as penance for sin, and it is out of charity (love) that we are enjoined to forgive the sins of others. Moreover, the more we truly love, the more we seek to unite ourselves to God and to his will, which directs us away from sin and enables us to give a living witness to others so they may likewise be led away from sin (cf. Prv 10:12; 1 Cor 13:4-7). (CCC 1434-1435, 1452)

Ch 4:10 Unique gifts from God are bestowed on each member of the faithful and are meant to be used for the edification of the entire Church. (CCC 798, 2003)

Ch 4:12-19 In order to share in Christ’s Resurrection, we must also share in his Cross. Any hardship we undergo during our earthly lives has no comparison to the blissful joy of seeing God face to face in Heaven. (CCC 672, 693)

Ch 5:1-4 Peter instructed the elders (priests and bishops) to care for their flocks in words reminiscent of Christ’s exhortation made to him personally: “Feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17). Pastors are to be shepherds modeled after Christ, the Good Shepherd who served by laying down his life. (CCC 754, 893, 1548-1551, 1554, 1562, 1567)

Ch 5:5-11 Humility and trust in God’s providence are necessary virtues for resisting temptation to despair and for building communion within the Church. Our trials are more patiently endured if we recognize that they merely purify us for the external glory that awaits us, obtaining grace to extend Christ’s kingdom. 

Subject to the elders: Proper humility should have all the faithful respecting those in authority in the Church. (CCC 302-303, 321-322, 754)

Ch 5:8 Your adversary the devil: The demonic forces of Satan are behind a significant part of the evil in the world, including the persecution of Christians. The Devil, like a wild beast, strategically stalks his victims in order to destroy their relationship with God. These words form part of the night prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. (CCC 409, 538-540, 2849, 2851-2854)

Ch 5:12-14 Silvanus: He is the Silas, as he is also called, who accompanied Paul on some of his apostolic visits.

Babylon: A pejorative code name for Rome, which at the time was ruled by pagans and before long would initiate violent persecutions of the Christians. The Babylonians were a pagan people who conquered Judah in the sixth century BC and deported much of its population back to Babylon, many of whom returned when Persia conquered Babylon two generations later. This exile contributed to the breakdown of the traditional Jewish tribal groups and subsequently the development of the Diaspora.

Mark: This author of the second Gospel also accompanied Paul on some of his mission journeys; later, he served as a scribe and interpreter for Peter, who called him “son” as a sign of his spiritual fatherhood. 

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

The First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians




Main Themes: 

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

1 Thessalonians 1:1 This letter by Paul is the earliest among the writings of the New Testament, ca. AD 51-52. It is unusual in that it is co-attributed to Silvanus (or Silas) and Timothy, co-workers with Paul.

Church: This is a translation of the Greek ekklesia, which means “assembly.” This term would quickly become a description not only of the local Christian community but of the universal assembly of Christians as well. They are united “in” God the Father because they have been made his children through Baptism. (CCC 106-107)

Ch 1:2-10 In a very positive tone, Paul remembered how well the faithful in Thessalonica had received the Gospel, manifesting especially the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The perfection of faith must involve works of charity towards both God and our neighbor, and hope gives us confidence in God’s unfailing help. Imitating Christ and the Apostles, they served as living witnesses to other surrounding communities. (CCC 442, 1812-1813, 1840-1841, 2662)

Ch 1:6 To suffer for faith in Christ is a mark of holiness because it unites the believer to the Passion of Christ and, therefore, conforms the believer to Christ’s life. (CCC 1109)

Ch 1:9 Most of the faithful in Thessalonica were Gentile converts. As Christians, they now worshiped the one true and living God rather than inanimate idols. (CCC 212)

Ch 1:10 Wrath to come: At the Final Judgment, God will once and for all destroy all evil even as he welcomes the faithful to eternal life. (CCC 679, 681-682)

Ch 2:1-12 Paul’s preaching in Thessalonica was not without some opposition. Paul defended his mission to spread the Gospel for the purest of motives. Paul’s work was completely selfless and full of affection accompanied by a sense of spiritual fatherhood for the people. He referenced his mistreatment in Philippi, where he and Silas had been badly beaten and imprisoned (cf. Acts 16:19-24). (CCC 1716, 2636)

Ch 2:13-16 God speaks to his people through his chosen representatives, and the proclamation of the Gospel is one of the primary responsibilities of his ordained ministers. The Word of God includes both the New and Old Testaments affirmed by the Church. Both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are sources of the Deposit of Faith that Christ left to us through his Apostles. 

You suffered: Christian life often entails suffering for the Faith, and Paul, his co-workers, and the Christian community in Thessalonica all had such experiences. Paul knew well of the persecution of Christians, as he had been among the leading perpetrators at the time of his conversion (cf. Acts 7:58-8:1). His criticism here is of Jewish persecutors, not Jews as a whole. (CCC 104, 442, 597, 832-833, 1349)

Ch 2:17-20 Unlike the moderate chastising and corrections of some of Paul’s other letters, here he expressed elation over the fidelity of the Thessalonians. 

Satan hindered us: It is not clear what Paul meant here, but it may have to do with those who opposed his ministry.

Our Lord Jesus at his coming: This is Paul’s first explicit mention of the coming of Christ at the end of time. The Greek word is Parousia, which means “presence,” or “arrival.” In this context, it refers to Christ’s return amid choirs of angels to judge the living and the dead. (CCC 1021-1022, 1038, 1041)

Ch 3:1-10 Paul recalled how he forewarned the Thessalonians of the persecution that both he and they would suffer on account of the Faith. It is not unlike Christ’s own prediction of his Passion and of the sufferings his Apostles would have to endure.

Good news of your faith and love: Happily, the Christian community remained strong despite the fact that they were not yet fully catechized. Therefore, Paul wished to visit Thessalonica to complete their instruction of the Faith. Their fidelity was due not just to their own efforts but to their acceptance of the grace of God that comes with faith and the Sacraments. (CCC 307, 2637)

Ch 3:11-13 Christ may return at any time, so Paul urged the Christians to be always ready through growth in holiness manifested by prayer and charity. This greater conformity to Christ can only occur through grace coupled with correspondence to the will of God. (CCC 1041, 1426, 2638)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

                Oh come on, you know I had to 😉)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you so much. Thank you for Peter once again today. Thank you for Paul. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that has reached out to us and continues to speak to us through your Word that  you have given us for so many years. Lord God, we ask you to please continue to shape our hearts. Continue to change our hearts. Make them more like you. Help us to imitate Jesus Christ, whose Spirit you have given to us to give us wisdom, to give us strength, to give us courage, and in this moment right now, Lord, to give us hope. Especially in the midst of suffering, for doing what’s right. Also Lord God, we know that many of us not only suffer for doing what’s right, we also many of us suffer because of the consequences of our own actions. That we have chosen wrong in our day. We have chosen wrong at some point in our lives. And now we are experiencing the burden of that choice. We are experiencing the reality of that choice. And we ask you, Lord God, come and meet us in our need. Come and meet us in our weakness. Come and meet us in our brokenness. Without you, we can do nothing. Whether this is our own making or whether this was a trouble that has come upon us even in the midst of virtue, regardless Lord, we ask you to be with us because we need you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”