If you have ever been to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, you may have visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A group of handpicked soldiers take turns standing watch over the Tomb 24 hours/day. You may have seen the precise march they do back and forth behind the tomb, keeping a vigilant watch in all kinds of weather.
Our 2nd reading today reminded me of this image of the vigilant soldier from Arlington. In his letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul is trying to calm the people who were recently upset by an apocalyptic warning. In a counterfeit letter, someone impersonating St. Paul told the Thessalonians the end of the world was coming.
St. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “Let no one deceive you in any way”…”stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught…”
Recent events have certainly reminded us of the need to “stand firm and hold fast”. This year may have brought us more than our fair share of challenges but it's important to maintain perspective and not be tempted by feelings of despair.
In fact, St. Paul reminds us of God’s love and encouragement. If we are receptive if His Grace, our hearts will be sustained by Hope and the promise of everlasting life.
Our challenge is to be an example of hope for others in the face of despair…to share encouragement during difficult times.
Let us ask God to help us to be open to His Grace and be a vigilant example of our faith in all kinds of weather.
-Deacon Steve Whiteman