Paul writes with his heart in chapter three. He reveals his true character and his inner disposition; as well his thoughts and feelings about the difficulties at hand. In his fatherly heart, he is anxious and even “shaken” by the trials of his children. He is under suspense as he is not able to be there with and for them. Though Paul cannot be there, he sends Timothy to Thessalonica.
Paul sends Timothy so that he can find out how well the faithful are enduring their suffering. He also wants to encourage them and give them words of comfort and strengthen them with any words he can give. You can sense Paul’s sheer passion behind all of the doting he does over the children. Moreover, Jesus Christ inspires this passion. He is concerned for the people’s faith. He is concerned for their eternal life. What good is it to have children if they do not eventually get to heaven…? It would be painful to see them suffer eternal punishment. We all die at one time or another. Some of us die earlier than others. Is it better to die later, only to go to hell? Paul is concerned for both their lives and their souls.
In this letter, you start to see the community behind Paul that responds with mutual care. Even though they go through their own trials, they are caring for one another. They do not abandon their faith in favor of an “all man for himself” mentality. A community of mutual love and support is firmly growing there in its place. In fact, it seems that the suffering they all endure together makes them stronger. They are there for each other and they suffer with each other in unity. They make the decision to suffer together rather than alone, and this is what bonds them in their love as a community. Jesus came to establish a church, not a book. Jesus brings life to the church while we are there for each other. He fills his people with the Holy Spirit all the more while He suffers.
This is how the Church and the people within it become fruitful, in cohabitation to our relationship with God. We start to grow in holiness and grace as God teaches us how to sacrifice for the good of each other. We are more and more inspired by the grace of God in our lives and by the people in our faith community. Their faith and suffering benefits the rest of the community as the rest of the community inspires faith in those suffering. God granted us that gift of togetherness when He created His holy church. This is why the mentality of “just Jesus and me” was never part of God’s plan for us. God never meant us to be alone in faith. As Satan knows all too well, “divide and conquer.” Through baptism, we are born again into a family of believers.
It is so important not to separate ourselves from the love of God that exists in this community. Every one of us has a role to play in God’s plan of love and sacraments. The other person in the pew is not a stumbling block, but an opportunity of love. If not today, you never know the goodness that may come in the future. But this is a message for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Do you have the faith to open your heart to God? Is your heart open to see the faith in your community and to love your family in faith?
*From the March 6th Bulletin