Pause

Saint Jerome, a 4th-century priest, said:

“Someone may ask, ‘How is justice greater than all the other virtues?’ The other virtues gratify the one who possesses them; justice does not give pleasure to the one possessing it, but instead pleases others.”

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Listen

I’m already being poured out like a sacrifice to God, and the time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. At last the champion’s wreath that is awarded for righteousness is waiting for me. The Lord, who is the righteous judge, is going to give it to me on that day. He’s giving it not only to me but also to all those who have set their heart on waiting for his appearance.

2 Timothy 4:6-8

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Think

At first glance, Paul’s bravado in his letter to Timothy sounds strangely similar to the boastful Pharisee in our reading from the Gospel of Luke yesterday. However, there’s one important difference: while the Pharisee builds himself up by putting others down, Paul’s confidence in his salvation does not exclude others from receiving the same grace. Paul rejoices that the “champion’s wreath” will be given “not only to me but also to all those who have set their heart on waiting for his appearance.”

I am a profoundly competitive person. I love races, sports, puzzles, escape rooms – and I’m always up for a challenger in Scrabble. I love to be first. Perhaps you are a competitive person too, or perhaps you love someone who sounds a little like me.

But being a Christian isn’t about being first or best. Victory in Christ isn’t about winning – it’s about breaking free from a world that says there are winners and losers, and working towards a world in which God’s love and mercy extends to everyone.

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

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Pray

God, your love wins out over the injustice of this world. Help me to rejoice in the victory that comes through knowing you, and open my heart to share your love with others. Amen.

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Go

The present form of the world passes away, and there remains only the joy of having used this world to establish God’s rule here. All pomp, all triumphs, all selfish[ness] ... All of that passes away.

What does not pass away is love.

Saint Oscar Romero, bishop and martyr, from a 1979 homily

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

Heidi Thorsen Oxford is a hospital chaplain, the Outreach Coordinator for Chapel on Green, New Haven, and a candidate for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Things that bring her joy include: her husband, two cats, painting religious icons, and drinking tea.

Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 "Moonlight": I. Adagio Sostenuto

Garry Bailey

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