Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr
My husband and I have recently returned from a pilgrimage where we walked in the footsteps of St. Paul in Greece and Turkey. As we spent time visiting these places and reflecting on scripture relevant to where we were, it became obvious that St. Paul’s tremendous gift of faith and His zeal for Christ were instrumental in bringing many people (and nations) to accepting Jesus as the Son of God and the source of their salvation. Although he preached in many places with eloquent words, St. Paul practiced his faith through the way he lived, and he called others to do the same.
In the first reading, St. Paul is commissioning St. Titus to help establish the church in Crete. Paul knew that it was vital that those who would be proclaiming the Good News would live lives that reflect their beliefs. He called the bishops to be “blameless, not arrogant, not irritable… and to be hospitable, a lover of goodness, temperate, just, holy and self-controlled.” St. Paul knew that if the faith was going to be shared it needed to be not just with words, but with actions. Those who were sharing the news about Jesus needed to capture not only the power of the message, but they needed to live as disciples of Christ. Without the example of lives lived in faith, it would be difficult for others to believe what they were preaching as being truthful. They needed lifestyles that flowed from the faith, so they could “exhort with sound doctrine and to refute opponents.” Faith that transforms people and their lives has the most powerful influence in evangelizing others.
In the gospel, Jesus warns his disciples about causing others to sin. He also speaks about the necessity of forgiving others always. Jesus wants his disciples to know that living lives of mercy and goodness are important in the lives of his followers. The apostles wanted further clarification about increasing their faith, and Jesus responded that the smallest amount of faith could have dramatic results. Jesus assures the apostles, that faith in His love (and the love of the Father and Spirit) is so powerful that its effects are beyond the imagination of the human mind.
St. Paul through his remarkable conversion was transformed into a man with great faith. He traveled long distances, endured great suffering, and even died for his faith in Jesus. Throughout his ministry he continued to preach and share the truths of the faith, but he always insisted that the faith must be lived out in order for it to be real. He lived his faith in his actions and because of his devotion to Jesus many people (both long ago and even today) have come to believe and know Christ in their lives.
Today, St. Paul calls each of us to follow Christ in our words and deeds. We are called to be “hospitable, a lover of goodness, just, holy…holding fast to the true message.” Jesus invites us to grow in our faith, but He assures us that God can do great things even with a faith that seems insignificant. If we live our lives following in the way of Christ, the little faith that we have can have remarkable effects on the lives of others. By loving our enemies, caring for those in need, choosing peace not war, and choosing mercy over judgment- these are the ways of Jesus that set disciples apart from the world. When we live in ways that are different from the world, we show others that Jesus and our faith still have significance and can make a difference today. If we have even a small amount of faith, but we live in the ways of Christ, we can move others to know and believe in the truth of God’s love and mercy. Not only will His grace in us move human hearts, but it can transform our world and bring compassion, peace and mercy to many people who are in great need.
Loving Father, thank you for sending Jesus who shows us the way to you. Thank you also for St. Paul who through his words and deeds spread the Good News of Jesus to many nations. Through Your Spirit, may we grow in our faith, and may our lives be transformed. May we through our words and deeds share You with the world, so that others may also come to know You and Your goodness. We pray this through Christ, our LORD. Amen.