The way that the Lectionary for weekday Mass is set up, we only get to read certain parts of the Scriptures every other year. This is the case with the Letter to the Colossians, one of the so-called prison letters of St. Paul. The passage we read today gives us some important personal information before the content of the letter speaks of weighty issues. Unlike some of St. Paul’s letters, the community to which it is addressed was not founded by St. Paul. It was founded by a man named Epaphras, one of the early Christians missionaries. However, the community had run into some problems caused by false missionaries. These difficulties have moved Epaphras to contact Paul and to ask for his help in countering the false preaching.
St. Paul opens the letter in typical fashion, telling the community that he gives thanks for their faith of which he has heard through their leader. He knows that this group of Christians are persevering in their faith despite the difficulties that are being raised by outsiders who are trying to sow seeds of division.
In today’s responsorial psalm, we sing of trusting in the mercy of God. This sentiment is particularly appropriate for the situation in which St. Paul finds himself. He is imprisoned which means that he is unable to visit this community which has asked for his help. The psalm offers us a way to maintain our trust in God when difficulties arise. We are encouraged to thank God for all the good things that we have witnessed in our lives and to proclaim those good deeds to the faithful.
We all encounter moments of discouragement, times when it is not necessarily easy to trust in God’s mercy. While negativity seems to hang like a cloud over us, we are encouraged to think of the good things that God has done for us and to sing God’s praises to those who will listen. St. Paul seems to be doing just that as he tells the citizens of Colossae that he gives thanks to God for the faith that they have in Jesus. This simple little remedy can help to dispel those dark clouds when we struggle to maintain our trust in God’s mercy.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator