2 Timothy 1.1-3, 6-12
Psalm 123.1b-2ab, 2cdef Resp. 1b
St. Paul is teaching Timothy that being imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel is no shameful thing. It is not a sign that Jesus is failing to protect his own. Jesus does not promise us worldly success in this life. St. Paul is not worried about being imprisoned and not even concerned that he will die for the Gospel, for he is depending on the promise of Jesus that we shall be like angels in heaven.
Christianity is all about turning failure into victory, beginning with Jesus’ victory on the Cross. Up until our Savior came and revealed the mercy of God and what is waiting for us on the other side of death, a blessed person was someone who had enough of this world’s goods and not too much of its troubles. Now the blessed include martyrs who died horrific deaths and saints who suffered their entire lives.
Why is this life a life of suffering? Could not God have made this life more pleasant? We Americans generally have a pretty pleasant life, but people suffer throughout the whole world. And even our pleasant lives are interrupted by sickness or economic problems, which turn our lives upside down. And it cannot be said that the suffering of this life is given to those who are bad in order to convince them to convert. The evils of this world, if anything, are more prevalent among those who refuse to take advantage of their neighbors. We must admit that sometimes we suffer the consequences of our sins, but sometimes the suffering is without reason and, anyway, why do some people suffer the consequences and other people luckily avoid them?
The only way this all makes sense is if this world is not that important. It seems important because it is all we know, but 10 million years into eternal life, the few decades we spent here are not going to be all that important. What will matter is what we did with this opportunity. If we use this time to draw closer to God, no matter our circumstances, and if we use this time to preach the Gospel in whatever way God sends us to preach, and if we use this time to serve our brother and sisters and loving everyone, then, when this time is up, we will be ready to enter into what could be called our real life.