Paul’s Loneliness. 9 Try to join me soon, 10 for Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke is the only one with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry. 12 I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 You too be on guard against him, for he has strongly resisted our preaching.
16 At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, (2 Timothy 4)
Paul is sometimes called the “abandoned apostle.” We all feel abandoned at times, and it hurts.
Looking at St. Therese of Lisieux, perhaps the Little Flower will shed some light on how we should become the “abandoned apostle” too.
The Imitation of Christ says, “It is my will, therefore, that ou learn to have a perfect abandonment of yourself and a full resignation of yourself into my hands, without contradiction or complaining, and follow me, for I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
This is the goal, but like Saint Paul, we are weak. Where can we find strength in this weakness?
Another image Therese used was in a letter written two months before her death, to her spiritual brother, Pere Maurice Barthelemy-Belliere. She wrote:
“I picture a father who has two children, mischievous and disobedient, and when he comes to punish them, he sees one of them who trembles and gets way from him in terror, having however, in the bottom of his hear the feeling that he deserves to be punished;
And his brother, on the contrary, throws himself into his fathers arms, saying that he is sorry for having caused him any trouble, that he loves him, and to prove it he will be good from now on, and if this child asks his father to punish him with a kiss, I do not believe that the heart of the happy father could resist the filial confidence of his child, who’s sincerity and love he knows.
He realizes, however, that more than once his son will fall into the same faults, but he is prepared to pardon him always, if his son always takes him by his heart….I say nothing to you about the first child, dear little Brother, you must know whether his father can love him as much and treat him with the same indulgence as the other.”
So abandonment is not something negative, letting go, but rather it’s the joyous response that arises out of confidence in the love of God.
This “joyous response” or abandonment has at its foundation LOVE. God’s love for us, and our love in response. Therese wrote in the Story of a soul, “God has no need of our works, but only our love.” Love is paid by love alone, was her motto.
Today, this week, this evening, perhaps we will feel abandoned, no one cares, sorry for ourselves. Abandonment is the key. We pray we might have the attitude of Therese who wrote to her sister Celine, “Oh, Celine, how easy it is to please Jesus, to delight His heart, on only his to love him!”
Seems quite simple doesn’t it. Why do we make it so complicated?