In the second reading today St. Paul is writing to Timothy, a young disciple who Paul first traveled with as a missionary and is now leading a Christian community. Five words from this reading caught my attention: “Compete well for the faith.” We all know about competition and many of us enjoy watching a good sporting event. St. Paul reminds us that we must train and compete for our faith as well.
Both our first reading and gospel challenge complacent behavior. Sometimes it is easy falling into ruts which prevent us from growing or cause us to close ourselves off from those who need help. Amos challenged the people of Israel in their comfort. In the gospel Jesus tells a parable which was a wake-up call for his listeners not to become disconnected from the poor and suffering.
Here in the United States we enjoy comforts not shared by others throughout the world. This isn’t a bad thing unless such a lifestyle alienates us from those in need or causes us to look down upon them. Complacency and indifference have to be considered and combated against or we may end where the rich man does in Jesus parable. St. Paul used competing for the faith to encourage Timothy, and it can apply to us as well. We must compete against the tendencies of complacency and indifference, against being comfortable and self-centered while neglecting the less fortunate. Let us compete well as Christ’s followers. Let us each put a little more time and energy into our spiritual lives and be sure to keep the less fortunate in mind. Without the saving acts of Jesus, we too would be the less fortunate, sinners that we are. But God always keeps us in mind. “And to God be honor and eternal power. Amen” (2nd reading).