As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. 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.
The reading from Second Thessalonians offers words of encouragement to a new church struggling to understand what they’ve been taught about Christ’s resurrection. In a sermon he preached after Easter, St. Augustine, whom we celebrate today, preached on a similar theme: How ought we celebrate the risen Christ when the world still looks the same?
In this sermon, Augustine doesn’t completely resolve the feeling of fear; he instead encourages people to sing, but “in the way of travelers [who] are in the habit of singing” and to “make some progress in goodness.” Perhaps that song we sing today can be like a prayer that has been taught through generations: “Jesus, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly.” Both today’s first reading and St. Augustine respond to the mystery of faith not by promising certainty but by teaching us how to encourage each other.
—Joe Wotawa, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province completing his theology studies at the Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
To defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
That I always may be holy.
—St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit