A Spirit of Power, Love and Self-Control
June 1, 2016
St. Justin, Martyr
2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12
I write this post from the triennial Chapter of the Province of St. Augustine, which is being held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Our brothers here have been blessed with many new vocations over the past decade—more than any other Capuchin province in North America—and their primary work this chapter (in addition to electing their provincial minister and council) is to consider a proposal to establish a new corporate ministry that will focus on the new evangelization and, true to our Capuchin charism, will involve a group of friars living and working together.
Perhaps not coincidentally, our own province is engaged in a similar though less structured process of discerning a new corporate ministry. This is part of the Pastoral Plan and process that our Provincial Minister and Council approved in 2013 and which was confirmed by the friars at our last Provincial Chapter in 2014.
Starting a new ministry is challenging at any time but particularly so when, despite our growth in vocations, we’re getting older and personnel and finances are tight. It can be downright scary. That’s why I found today’s reading from 2 Timothy so helpful and hopeful.
Timothy was a young minister called to lead a nascent Christian community. It was a tough job, and he found himself discouraged. It seemed too much for him. But Paul his mentor had great confidence in him and urged him to “stir into a flame” the gift of God that had been given him when he was commissioned for his ministry. “For God,” Paul admonished him, “did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” It was his way of saying, “With the grace of God…you got this!”
That spirit comes not from us but from God. It’s easy to forget that when we spend too much time contemplating what we lack rather than what we have and, even more importantly, the One who has given it all to us. When we feel like retreating and become too afraid to take risks, St. Paul urges us as he did Timothy to “man up”—spiritually. JC