4 September 2007. Tuesday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Thess 5, 1-6, 9-11 Encouragement
There are things which are inevitable. The pregnant woman will surely experience birth pains. All of us will grow old and die. No one can escape these eventualities. And there are things which come suddenly and unexpectedly. The mother of Chris Mendez surely did not expect her son to die this way. Neither the love ones of the marines who died in the battlefield of Mindanao, or the Bicolanos from the wrath of Mayon and typhoon Reming. The ebbs and tides of life affect all of us. And disaster comes in all forms. Like the thief in the night. I know what it means: I live at the foot of Mayon Volcano. We live in constant anxiety — it can erupt anytime. But on the other hand, we also live in unwavering trust in God. All the more, we do feel that our lives are always in the palm of God’s hands. Nothing is permanent, but God.
The letter to the Thessalonians speak of these unexpected events when the ‘day of the Lord’ comes: it can mean any day or time when the Lord enters our lives; or it can also mean our own individual death; or it can mean the parousia, the 2nd coming of Christ at the end of the universe. However, there is more to the first reading: it tells us about two things.
First, it tells us that Christians do have some confidence when the unexpected comes. It is the confidence that is found in a deep faith in God. A dog was found by the Suncoast Humane Society in Florida during the hurricane. In 2004, Debra Parsons-Drake who was the executive director featured the dog on television. She got a phone call from the dog’s guardian who wanted to be reunited with their family pet. They have lost everythnig, except their dog. The confidence in God is like finding the family’s dog, when thinking one has lost everything. The difference is that, we will never lose God no matter what happens. Romans 8, 35 assures us that no one can ever be separated from the love of Christ.
Second, it gives us a disaster strategy: “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up.” To prepare for life’s inevitable is to strengthen each other up. Sometimes it is hard to praise someone for a work well done. But it is easy to criticize someone for the mistake made. When we grow, there is a process of socialization in which we rely on external praise to appreciate our self-worth. Studies show that we need 5 affirmations a day to be healthy. And therefore, to make someone stronger is to give them credit when due and recognition when there is reason to appreciate them. We should not prevent ourselves from showing our appreciation when someone’s hair looks good on them or another’s presentation at the meeting was excellent.
As a teacher, I have seen that the confident student gets the higher mark than those who suffer from low self-esteem. To encourage and to build one another positively strengthen us, and therefore, prepare us for life’s battles.