UNBORN WORD of the day

July 29, 2008, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!


A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).


St. Paul escaping from the city of Damascus

One morning 10 or 15 years ago, I woke up with a word in my mind and upon my lips; “INDEFATIGABLE”. Besides still being drowsy, I wasn’t exactly sure what the word meant – I had a rough concept of it but not an understanding of it. So I went to the dictionary: “Incapable of being wearied; that cannot be tired out; unremitting in labor or effort”. True story. (Which reminds me of the time my smiling high school football coach said to me: “You’re expendable” and I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or something sinister.)

The Christian is called to an ‘untiring’ faith, a ‘tireless’ faith. A faith for good times and bad, a faith commitment in season and out of season. It is also a faith which requires effort – constant effort, continuing effort, unrelenting effort. Does this sound negative? Does this scare us?

“Take up (your) cross and follow me” says the Lord (Mt 16:24, Mt 10:38). Should we edit this from Christianity? (Push the delete button?) ‘Shouldn’t our faith just be one continuous “high”?’ some might conjecture. Let’s take a look at a famous passage written by Saint Paul to the Church of Corinth (II Cor 11:24-12:10). It is too long to quote here, but let’s paraphrase parts of it. It starts with Paul boasting (in a self-conscious manner, “I am talking like a madman”) about his numerous problems, sufferings, setbacks and weaknesses as compared to other apostles:

I have endured far greater labors, more imprisonments,
countless beatings, often near death…
Five different times I received 39 lashes,
Three times I was beaten with rods,
I was stoned once.
Shipwrecked three times,
Adrift at sea for a night and a day.
I experienced frequent dangers from rivers,
from robbers, Jews, Gentiles, false brethren
dangers in the city, in the wilderness, at sea…
toil, hardship, hunger and thirst,
often without food, subject to cold and exposure.
I escaped from the city of Damascus
by being lowered in a basket over the city wall.

Paul is the model par excellence of heroic indefatigable faith. This wonderful excerpt from Paul also acknowledges the extreme weakness which is inherent in our lives (not paraphrased above). Paul concludes this powerful passage with his famous statement: “for when I am weak, then I am strong” (by the Grace and power of Christ within him). We must all hold on with Paul and all the great Saints who have gone before us. To live virtuous lives amidst cultural upheaval is heroic. We are called to develop virtues in our lives and live by them tirelessly, heroically. Saint Paul pray for us.

George A. Peate, July 30, 2008

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