I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
The apostle Paul knew a thing or two about proclaiming good news amidst hardship. His letter to the Philippians was written while he was imprisoned for his faith. However, rather than sit in prison and feel sorry for himself, he proclaimed the joy he had in Christ and others took notice. Through his proclamation in hardship, complete strangers came to have confidence in the Lord.
A few weeks ago, there was a horrible coordinated terrorism attack in Paris, France. Hundreds of people were killed in senseless acts of violence by those who would have us live our lives ruled by fear rather than the peace to which God calls us. Just yesterday, yet another mass shooting happened in San Bernadino, CA. (Click here for a prayer for the people of San Bernadino).
Like the apostle Paul, we find ourselves in times in which the joy found in Paul's letter can seem counterintuitive. Why should we rejoice at a time of such pain and suffering? As Christians, we are called to affirm that now is the most important time to proclaim God's goodness. In doing so, we preach that evil and suffering, while being very real, are nevertheless opposite of God's intention for God's creation.
During this Advent season, may we remember that to proclaim the joy we have in Christ does not discount the reality of evil in the world. Rather, to do so affirms it and fights against it! So may we continue the work that Paul began. Let us proclaim God's goodness in the midst of a world that desperately needs it. That is your work as a disciple of the Risen Christ!
Prayer of the Day:
God of peace,
as I begin this day, help me proclaim the peace to which we are called.
Help me stand against the fear that seeks to invade my life.
May I be a vehicle of your peace that is soon to be found
in the birth, body, and being of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.