But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word. — 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
Here’s a passage that ought to set our hearts on fire. We are the heirs of these First Century Thessalonians who are being reminded that they are chosen as the first fruits for salvation. We, too, are sanctified by the Spirit, set apart to obtain the glory of our Lord. We, too, are deeply loved by God. In fact, we are secure in God’s love for eternity.
Why, then, are we not more courageous? The Church ought to be full of people ready to risk their lives — or at least blow their savings — on helping refugees, bringing people to hospitals for healing, feeding and housing all those who cannot make ends meet and who therefore suffer. We are the beloved, the redeemed, meant to be the agents of God’s mercy.
One thing that keeps us tied up and unable to respond to God is the culture in which we live. It’s hard to turn against the tide of materialism and concretism; the desire for long life, safety and security. It’s a world view in which we think we’re in charge. Phenomena like the movement of the Spirit are reduced to the activities of brain neurotransmitters — imagined as something we can control through the right kind of meditation and diet. Our mantra is “scientists have proven”.
And yet, God’s love is a siren song in our souls. Will we hear it singing? Will we echo in our lives the anthems of peace and compassion? It is like a seed weaving tendrils into the dark loam of our hearts. Will we be transformed? Will we turn and open our arms in welcome to all those to whom God calls?
The Thessalonians were worried that the day of the Lord had already come. They were shaken and alarmed. We, too, look around us in fear and trepidation. May we take in the words written to this early church and make them our own, so that we live in God’s love, reaching out with courage and compassion to everyone.
Laurie Gudim is a writer, religious iconographer, and spiritual director living in Ft. Collins, CO. To get to know her a little better visit everydaymysteries.com.