Part 1

Before Paul writes to those living in Thessalonica, he writes first to Timothy, the bishop in the area that Paul himself ordained (2 Tim 1:6). Religious historians believe that he wrote this letter in Corinth. It was not long after Paul had visited Thessalonica that he wrote his letter. We believe that Paul wrote this letter in the year 51 or 52, because Gallio was Proconsul at the time, and Paul mentions this fact (Acts 18:12). Reading chapter 18 of Acts of the Apostles can give you an idea of what Paul was going through as he writes this letter.

Many people were dying and despairing. It was not an issue of people not having faith in God and His goodness. Rather, they had a misunderstanding of what was taught. They thought that the second coming was going to happen soon, and that people had to be alive in order to participate in the final placement in heaven. This puts clarity on what Paul is trying to explain and makes more sense of the text on the latter part of Chapter 4.

Paul begins with his usual greeting and praise of God in the first chapter. He thanks God for the Thessalonians, and he prays for them (v2). Paul has been preaching to every community, but he has also been diligently living out an example by which to show others how God wanted them to live. Paul did this everywhere he went. The Thessalonians seem to be one of the few places that got the full message; not just the words given, but the example as well (6). In many of Paul’s letters, he pointed out the way of life he lived as he was there.

 Actions speak louder than words. Yet at the same time, they can easily go un-noticed. As Americans, we often focus on the what. We think of teaching as somebody in a classroom writing on a board, and telling us the knowledge we need to know. But learning is much more than that. Real learning, especially when it comes to our faith, delves deeper than what words alone can contribute. Action is one of the tools that can convey what words cannot. Actions allow us to see what virtue looks like. It also gives us an experience of the goodness of virtue and it inspires us to follow that goodness. Action strengthens us as well. The more good actions we do, the easier it becomes to stick with it. Though the devil sometimes challenges us and makes things more difficult, we still gain strength from undergoing the hardship.

People lived out their faith and gave up all the falsehoods they used to follow before. They gave up all idol worship (9). They made the decision to follow God and to worship Him alone. There was no fulfilling purpose in sticking to past worship, nor was there a true fire to live on just entertainment. The people did not make their own religion the way they wanted it. They followed God as He is and had a desire in their own hearts to serve Him alone. This is where the power of God is shown.

The Gospel message is lived out and souls are saved. Actions are undeniable. It can speak lies or truths from our body language alone. Do our actions speak of how God is merciful and loving? Do our bodies speak of virtue and goodness? Our bodies are where the Word is to be made flesh (Jn 1:14). Our very bodies become a temple created to serve the goodness of God. Living with the Holy Spirit opens our minds and hearts to the gifts that God has given us.

Father Barr

* From the February 13th Bulletin