Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13
What are your favorite memories? Why are they so cherished?
7b We were nice when we visited you, like a nursing mother who cared for her children. 8 We so wanted to be with you, not just to share God's Good News, but our very selves. You are our dear friends. 9 Remember, brothers and sisters, how we worked hard, day and night. We didn't want to be a burden on any of you while we preached God's Good News.
13 Because of this, we always thank God! For, when you believed God's word that you heard from us, you did not welcome the words of mere men. No, you took his word for what it really was. For, God is active in all of you who trust in him.
7b We became babes in your midst, like a nurse caring for her children, 8 so yearning for you, we well intended to share with you, not only the Good News of God, but also our very beings, because you became dear ones to us. 9 For remember, brothers, our work and toil, night and day, striving not to be a burden on any of you (as) we preached the Good News of God to you.
13 Because of this, we always thank God that, taking up the word of God heard from us, you did not welcome the word of men, but just as it really is, the word of God, who is active in you, the ones trusting (the Lord).
Paul continued with his words of affection for the Thessalonian community. Over the past two studies we have seen that the church at Thessalonika was born and flourished against the opposition of the city fathers loyal to Rome and local Jewish community. Paul identified with the struggle of Thessalonian church, as he enjoyed their hospitality. There were grounds for mutual empathy, the church with Paul's travails and Paul with the toils of the Thessalonians. But, there would another reason for this empathy. Both Paul and his friends in Thessalonika would face a common enemy: strict Jewish-Christians. These converts insisted Gentiles become Jews and live under the Law as they did. Between these converts on the inside and the Jewish opposition on the outside, Paul lashed out in a general way against his countrymen (2:14-16, not in this study). For both impeded the growth that the Thessalonian church represented.
Paul and his fellow missionaries had fond memories in Thessalonika, despite the local opposition. They approached their students with warmth, for the neophytes quickly took hold of the faith. [2:7b-9] And the power of the gospel which fed Paul's faith was clearly evident in the community. [2:13]
We may have fond memories of a simpler, more powerful time of faith: a retreat, early participation in a renewal movement, or the beginnings of a friendship based upon shared values. As important as these memories are, they cannot replace the faith experience we have today. Such memories feed our faith and give us hope. But we should not reduce our faith life to the recreation of long ago events. God gives us today to believe, not yesterday or tomorrow. Let us cherish our memories, plan for tomorrow, but pray today.
What memories feed your faith? How do they help your prayer life today?