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November 1992

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thess. 3:5)

This is one of the various and meaningful expressions of farewell and encouragement that Paul liked to use from time to time in his letters. This one we shall be able to understand better by keeping in mind the purpose of the letter it is in.

Some Christians at Thessalonica had been influenced by false interpretations of Paul's teaching and had stopped going to work, thinking that the second coming of Christ was just about to happen. Beside the fact that such rumours were completely unfounded, Paul wanted in any case to remind them of how they should prepare for the Lord's coming. Far from sinking into idle and fruitless waiting, they were to live well in the present by doing the will of God. This would mean applying themselves fully to their work in order to support themselves and also to help their brothers and sisters.

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

In these words Paul reveals to us how we can live in the present to the full: by always letting ourselves be guided by love. Clearly, this is the love that comes from God and that brings us to love him in return.

Christian life means believing in the love of God in all things, even in trials and in the most painful things he allows to happen. It means knowing how to see his love especially in his Word, in the duties of our state in life and in our carrying them out generously. It also means working for the kingdom of God, so that his love might spread among all people. We do this, first of all, by putting into practice the commandment of mutual love which shows that we are followers of Christ and reveals him to the world.

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

It is not by chance that here Paul emphasises both the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ. Jesus showed this steadfastness throughout his earthly life. It is shown in the perseverance with which he faced every weariness, deprivation, misunderstanding, opposition and abandonment. It is shown in his total detachment from his own will which enabled him to be completely one with his Father's will, even in the most painful moments of his passion and death on the cross.

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

How can we live the Word of Life this month?

We can live it by seeing in all that we must do both the love of God and the possibility of loving him back. This applies to our work, for example. Where, in fact, is there a better or more readily available chance to live out our love for God and for other people? What a social revolution, what good effects for our neighbours and for the whole of society would there be, if we were to let ourselves be guided in our work by love!

Since none of this is possible without sacrifice and self-denial, let's also let ourselves be guided by the other attitude Paul speaks of, the example of steadfastness and detachment from self given by Jesus.

Like this, love will give meaning and fullness to every moment of our life. And everything that we will have done for love, as Jesus assures us, will remain forever.

Chiara Lubich


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