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VIRTUE AND VICE


 


 

I HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT

"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith." Paul was about to  be martyred and this was his way of consoling Timothy and his community. He was like a father bidding good-bye. "Son we have done things very well together. We have  lived the good life and we have lived up to a ripe old age. Our life has been irreproachable.

This manner of speaking would console any child and bring him good cheer, knowing his father has finished all his work and has done all things well.

I have fought the good fight. Heaven is my merited crown. Heaven is bestowed on winners, on those who passed their test, on those who engaged in combat. It is not given to spectators. So, though he was hungry, imprisoned and chained, Paul fought for the sake of Christ. There is no worthier battle than this; the crown is eternal, the audience are the angels.

Living the Gospel is not the good fight, it is merely the training ground wherewith the soul prepares itself. And he who is trained will surely win.

"I have finished the course." We cannot tarry, we cannot take our sweet time. It behooves us to run towards a good end. This race is not merely display of skill; it is either eternal salvation or damnation. And Paul, indeed, ran around the whole known world for the sake of the Gospel.

"I have kept the faith." This is a great achievement in an era described by Christ in these words: "When I come, will I find faith on earth?" Many things could have robbed Paul of his faith: human friendship, death, threats, chains. . . but he stood firm against all.

If, like Paul, we have fought the good fight, run the race and kept the faith, then, like Paul, we can say, "Henceforth, there is laid for me a crown of righteousness."

St. John Chrysostom "2 Tim. 7"

 

 

  

(02-29-04)

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