Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering.
Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
The word “encourage,” in some form, is written ten times in Paul’s salutation and greeting. When something is repeated, we ought to take notice!
This letter is written in response to great turmoil in the relatively new Christian community at Corinth, after the community had first been turned away from Paul’s teachings by false prophets and now – through the encouragement of Titus – had returned to support and follow Paul’s teachings. Rather than criticize their failures, which would discourage them, Paul encourages them to great trust and faith. Paul offers these in order to build hope and trust with the people of Corinth, as well as to animate and energize their Christian lives.
At the same time, Paul is not just writing to the Corinthians, but to himself. His preaching and teaching ministry is not easy, not without challenge and aggressive counter-attacks. Paul himself needs to be encouraged in the same hope and support, and to be energized and animated in the Spirit.
Encouragement is like hope, love and forgiveness: the giving and offering of these does not diminish, but increases the overall “supply” of encouragement, hope, love and forgiveness – for both the giver and the receiver. Unlike material goods, in which the giving is a personal diminishment of these goods, with Spiritual Goods, the giving grows and “bear fruit thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)
What opportunities have I been given today to offer encouragement and hope, rather than the temptation towards criticism and regret?
—Fr. Glen Chun, S.J. is minister of the Loyola University Jesuit Community, Chicago, and also serves on the vocations staff for the Chicago-Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus
Lord, it doesn’t take much. Small gestures of kindness that uplift anothers’ spirit downcast by many concerns. Inspire us to speak words of encouragement, to share a compliment, to seize that moment to affirm through our smile, and to generously listen to a distraught heart. Then we will be filled with a joy that transcends the daily grind that sometimes shadows our day.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team