Monday, June 8, 2009


First Reading: 2 Cor 1:1-7
Psalm: Ps 34:2-9 -- Taste and see the goodness of the Lord
Gospel: Mt 5:1-12

If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. - 2 Corinthians 1:6


Encouragement seems to be the word of the day for Paul in today's reading. He uses it ten times in five verses. The constant repetition caused me to get confused as I read it through, so I had to go back and re-read it several times before it made sense. Once it did, I realized that there was not really any other way it could have been stated.

What Paul is telling us is definitely not obvious at a first glance. Common sense (and self-preservation) tell us that if someone is suffering for something, then we should avoid that behavior. However, on a second look, and in context, it makes perfect sense that the suffering Paul speaks of is a very encouraging thing.

To demonstrate, let us set up a simple scenario: a group of children are playing on the playground. One of the larger boys pushes a younger girl down and laughs at her. Her brother notices this; he stands up for his sister and prepares to fight, even though he knows he cannot win a fight against the larger boy. The immediate reward that he receives will likely be a bloody nose, or mockery, or any of a number of playground cruelties. On the other hand, the other kids on the playground will see that someone is willing to stand up to the bullies. Perhaps other brothers will take a stand for their siblings the next time they are bullied.

This is the example of the saints and martyrs. Tertullian's famous statement that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church," is a fact that we can see played out across history. When a follower of Jesus was publicly put to death, some of the people in the square wanted to know who this Christ was that people would rather die than denounce him. What was so powerful about their testimony is that they were (and are) willing to suffer in order to encourage others to be strong in their faith.
Our hope for you is firm, for we know that as you share in the sufferings, you also share in the encouragement. - 2 Corinthians 1:7

Heavenly Father, all glory and praise to you for your greatness. We thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for our many brothers and sisters throughout history that have given their testimony and encourage us even now. We pray for those in the world who are suffering because of their faith in Christ, that they remain firm. Help us to encourage them in their time of need, as they encourage us in our life of faith. Embolden us, that we might stand fast and encourage others to stand up for their belief in your Son. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

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