In the second chapter, Paul gives his heart to the Thessalonians. He reflects upon his experience with them, and notes that they bring him hope. In this explanation, he reveals a little about how the conversion of the Thessalonians comes about. It was not by flattering words, greed, or the pretext of gaining glory (2:5-6). Paul simply speaks to truth and the Holy Spirit did the rest of the work.
This should remind us today that conversion with the faith does not happen because of the eloquence of the tongue. Eloquence may help, but does not make it happen. As humans, we have no silver bullet by ourselves. God, who works in the hearts of the people, prepares the soul to receive His grace.
Many people think that we have to get the numbers of people in the pew up. That is the observable mark that they consider the most important. It’s a goal that demonstrates how simplistic our minds can be. If we see more people in the pews, then surely the church is becoming more successful. In that end, we are tricked by flash in the pan reality. Just having more people in church doesn’t really measure success. All of those people also have to commit themselves. Meeting an observable goal may look good on paper, but if no substance is given, you may even end up with fewer people. The Catholic Church that Jesus Himself founded has been given the task to preserve the faith that Jesus has given us. When I went into the seminary, a friend of the family gave me a hat that read, “Jesus is my boss.” This is very true, but Jesus is also more than that. Jesus is also my Master. He has absolute authority over me as an individual. He especially has absolute authority over me as a priest. I have an obligation to do His holy work, which is to preserve the truth and bring the sacraments to His people among other things.
Jesus left the deposit of faith and the Catholic Church has preserved it for two thousand years. We are His servants. The Church has also been given the task to preserve our worship. There may be many people who think we have to change things to make us more “likeable” or to catch up with the times. This thought has no historical basis in the church. The Church does not change to the whim of the world. God expects the world to change into His conformity.
This conformity is innocence, purity, and goodness as a child of God. How do we make our lives “worthy of the God who calls” us to His glory (v12)? First, we have to listen to the word of God attentively (v13). This is spoken or written. Take note of the way Paul inscribes this. What the Church teaches does not come from man, but from God. Man contemplates this reality and discovers ever deeper of how it affects our lives.
In conclusion, we do not learn more by leaving the teachings of Jesus Christ, but rather by pondering the same reality. Changing things up to make the church more appealing goes against what Paul teaches us to do. I thank God that we have Paul to keep us guarded from falling into false teachings. We all need that help.
*From the February 20th Bulletin