Keeping the faith, finishing the race

It is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, and the Second Reading from the Mass for today is from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy:

2 Tim 4:6-8,17-18;

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,

and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Despite all the trials, troubles and tribulations that Paul went through, he never took his eyes off the prize: persevering in the faith that is the pursuit of Jesus Christ and finishing that pursuit having done the job he was born to do, and did well.

Paul was tenacious in his zeal for Jesus, and that paid off: in preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles today 1/3 of this planet is now Christian. Perhaps not very good ones, but that’s for God to judge.

How zealous and dedicated are we? (I’m asking this of myself, too.) Will we let the opinions and attitudes and behaviors of other people affect how we live our Christian vocation? Or do we set it aside when it gets inconvenient and difficult?

Paul’s perseverance was aided by God. The Lord helped him through his pain and suffering so as to enable Paul to accomplish his mission. Just as the Lord will assist us when we seek to do His will in all things, Paul got it done despite everything only because God helped him.

Paul’s comment about keeping the faith and finishing the race reminded me of statements in AA meetings when some member dies, it is usually remarked that “so-and-so died sober,” as if that is all that mattered. Most often it does as drunk we can hardly accomplish anything.

But as I’ve written before, “Not drinking” is only the start. “Not drinking” is not the goal in itself, it is the basis by which we move out into the world and transform it by our sobriety and Catholic Christianity.

We clean and sober Catholics, as well as anyone else no longer practicing their addiction, have been given a new lease on life. We are in our second lives, so to speak. The first one was wasted by our alcoholism and addictions. Our new start, regardless of how long we’ve been clean and sober, is a second chance at doing whatever we were placed on the Earth to do. Even if that mission was based on our prior addiction (as in we were made addicts for a reason) we must make the most of it. We find that out through prayer and meditation (Step 11 for people in a 12 Step movement).

Go to Mass or read the Mass readings prayerfully today. Peter and Paul started a conquest of the world that is still going on now. Join them.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"