Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday word, 28 Aug 2007

St. Augustine, Memorial (28Aug2007) 1Th 2.1-8; Ps 139; Mt 23. 23-26
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Milk and Medicine

If we want an example of God’s patience, St. Augustine is surely one. We remember him often in the same memory as his mother, St. Monica, who prayed that her son would be come a Catholic Christian, as St. Augustine recalled her desire, which she expressed to him near the end of her life: “One thing only there was for which I desired to linger in this life: to see you a Catholic Christian before I died.”/1/

As Augustine, who spent much of his lifetime seeking wisdom and found it to be God, put it: “Accordingly I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed for ever.”/2/

“Embracing Jesus Christ” echoes a modern conversion-phrase: “accepting Jesus as one’s savior.” Anyone’s acceptance of or embracing Jesus does not outdo Jesus’ patience. That is easy to forget. It is why I offer thanking Jesus for his patience as a penance in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The more we savor Jesus’ patience with us, the more we live by Jesus’ care and less by our compulsions.

St. Paul incarnated Jesus patient love with the Thessalonians, as he reminded them--and us--that he preached Jesus without any flattery or desire for gain (not all preachers of religion or philosophy did that); and that while with them Paul was gentle as a nursing mother.

Paul offered the nourishing milk of the gospel to its first hearers as well as spiritual medicine to all to help them focus on its more substantive elements: discernment and mercy and fidelity.

To do so means being patient with ourselves. That is more possible because of Jesus’ faithful and undying patience with us.
/1/ his Confessions, IX.10.26 [Bk, Ch., paragraph]
/2/ Confessions, Bk.VII.18.24
Wiki-image of a page of St. Augustine's Confessions is in the public domain.

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