Do your best to come to me soon, for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds. You also must beware of him, for he strongly opposed our message.
At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
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
What is it that makes us want to pursue the new thing, but at the same time relish in the comfort of the old? I enjoy and embrace new technologies as they roll out. I am a big fan of tablet computers and the myriad apps that make the information that I desire accessible. There is an emotion that is satiated in following these new things. But also, I simply love wearing my old pair of jeans, faded sweatshirt, and broken-in gym shoes that just always seem to fit just right. I feel consoled but ready to work in these old clothes that have been with me through many experiences.
We appreciate this new versus old theme today in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. What a different emotional state Paul must have felt while writing this letter than from his initial conversion on the road to Damascus. His newly experienced faith in a risen Christ enflamed his chase into the outer reaches of the known world. We find him today suffering from abandonment and persecution. He reaches out to a friend to bring his old coat and old books.
Was this the coat Paul was wearing when the Lord asked Paul to stop persecuting him? Maybe not, but in any case, he desired the warmth and comfort that this particular old coat would bring to him. He wanted to read again the words contained in his old books that they might resonate anew within him. His pursuit towards sharing with others a new life in Christ needed a personal infusion from the old.
Our church too shares this necessity for new and old. We are a procession of the faithful. Some are out front leading the charge towards newer horizons, some are in the rear carrying the treasure trove of past experience, and some are in the middle. The church needs it all and all those in the procession. We trust as Paul did that the Lord stands with us and gives us strength wherever we are. Are we always charitable to those who belong to a different part of this Christ-centered and universal procession?
—Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago
“I ask myself: am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. In his mercy, God never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins.”
—Pope Francis: Homily for Marian Pilgrimage, Year of Faith. Oct. 13, 2013