FEAST OF SAINT LUKE, EVANGELIST
2 Timothy 4:10-17b
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.
Psalm 145:10-13, 17-18
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power, to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
In the readings we can extract a healthy understanding of the Christian’s proper dependency. St. Paul, engaged in active ministry, writes about his experiences of opposition, being abandoned by co-workers, and even being harmed by some. These things did not derail him. He was not dependent on his group of friends, nor on his achievements or scholarship or influence. He takes inventory of his needs and who he can trust to work with him. He is very matter-of-fact. Paul was deserted. He could not simply trust men, even the ones who began their mission together with him. But his strength was firmly in the Lord who stood by him to proclaim his message.
The level of support we need relates to our dependency. We may find ourselves alone or being attacked with no one to value our message. But if we have Jesus, we need nothing else and no one can rob us of the Spirit that we carry with us.
Keeping our eyes on the Lord and his mission is the key to our strength. When we go out into the world like lambs among wolves, we have very few tools. We leave behind our baggage and our money. The message itself is the gift. People are free to reject our gift. They may reject us. In that case, we move on knowing that we have the precious gift of peace and the assurance of the Lord’s kingdom.
We all have to own our own behavior and we will have to make an account for it which is why Paul prayed for those who deserted him, “May it not be counted against them!” Like St. Paul, who desired his books and parchments, the treasure we carry is in the word of God. It does not change.
God is sovereign and if he is with you, you are a sovereign land. If God is with you, you have his spirit and nothing can make you surrender your peace.