26 August 2008 Tuesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time
2 Thessalonions 2, 1-3, 14-17 Balancing our Acts
The letters of Paul to the Thessalonians were written because there was a need to explain and clarify what he had said. Paul sent Timothy to the Thessalonians when he was in Athens because of several issues. The Church in Thessalonica was growing, and the Thessalonians loved Paul. But something was wrong: a teaching was overly-bloated.
Paul taught about the Second Coming of Christ. He regarded the end of time, NOT as a DATE, but as a state of life when all were ‘gathered together to meet Christ’. In apocalyptic teaching, however, it was taught that people would know about the end when evil had reach a certain fullness. That evil would show its worst conceivable form. When this happens, almost nearing evil’s triumph, the time for God’s judgment would have been ripe. (Giblin, Threat to Faith). It is like watching some movies: the hero receives all the blows, almost experiencing the peak of brutality, only to retaliate and then triumphs in the end.
The Thessalonians however stopped working and gave up completely their daily lives. They awaited with excessive expectancy Christ’s Parousia. They thought, “if the end is near, what is the meaning of toil? We would all die anyways.” Somehow, in their piousness, they have blown Paul’s teachings out of proportion. They have taken the teachings out of context and overly emphasized them.
Thus Paul wrote his letters to the Thessalonians as soon as possible. He sought to shed light on the teaching, and thus to put things back normally. In the second letter, he said things to calm their hysteria, and make them wait, not idly, but proactively. Paul told them that by waiting patiently for the Second Coming, we are not abandon our daily activities.
There is a tendency for us in our lives to lose balance and to interpret things out of proportion. For example, it is true that we are to serve the Lord. Many parents who belong to many pious organizations would spend hours and hours with their prayer sessions, to the point of neglecting their primary service: the care of their children. Many priests can be pre-occupied with the performance of the liturgy, that they forget the primary demand of charity. We can get too engrossed with our responsibilities in fulfilling a nevertheless noble task as catechism or tutoring children, but forget what we students are meant to do: study.
We should help each other balance our lives. We either do one thing excessively, or not do anything at all. Sometimes the demand is not so much to do a priority list and assigned a number of hours, but to discern everyday which needs more attention and which needs to be restrained.