In the Gospel today, Jesus gives a paradox to his listener: how can the Christ be a son of David when David himself says: the Lord said to my Lord. The first Lord is God, so who is the second Lord in this verse. It cannot be David because he was the one who spoke this. The second Lord is the Messiah whom the scribes believe will descend from David. If the Messiah is descended from David, how can David have spoken as if the Messiah already existed? So there is a dilemma. The Messiah is descended from David, yet, he also existed during David’s time and David calls him Lord, equating him with God.
By saying this, Jesus gives a hint of who he is: the Messiah who is fully human AND fully divine. Paul tells Timothy to observe my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and suffering the things that happened to me… yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. For Paul, this reality, that Jesus is the Messiah, fully God and fully human is to be taught and lived. One cannot say one thing and live another way. I cannot claim Jesus as my Lord and turn around and live and think whatever I want.
According to St Paul, to be committed to Jesus is to live a godly life, which means we will be persecuted by wicked people and impostors who will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. Who are these wicked people? These are those who do not know Christ. The interesting note is Paul also mentions impostors, meaning these pretend to be believers of Christ but are not. They deceive others and are deceived. We live in an age where those who are supposed to teach us the fullness of the divinity and humanity of Christ, go from bad to worse. They are bad to begin with, because they do not teach the truth, and they get worse because they pretend to teach the truth to deceive others.
Yet, in the midst of these, Paul tells Timothy continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Who did Timothy learn what he had learned? Paul could be talking of Timothy’s mother who taught him the sacred writings at that time, which is the Hebrew Scripture. Paul could also refer to his own teaching to Timothy because Paul taught him how these sacred writings instruct Timothy for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. If this is the case, Paul points to his own authority to teach how the Old Testament applies to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Paul points to his own teaching and life as an example to Timothy. He tells Timothy to remain steadfast in the teaching of Paul which is consistent with the teaching of the Apostles. With this, Paul also reminds us to remain steadfast to what the Church has historically taught as the teaching of the Apostles. This is how we can identify wicked people and impostors who deceive others and themselves.
When we do, Paul tells us, we will be persecuted. We celebrate St Boniface today. He preached the Gospel in Germany in the eighth century, to those who did not believe in the True God and he was killed when he destroyed the oak dedicated to Thor. The Psalm today reminds us, great is the peace for those who love your law. When we have many persecutors and adversaries, we will not falter from his decrees because his Word is truth and his ordinances are righteous and endures forever. This is why those who want to change the historic teaching of the Apostles deceive others and themselves, because they want to change the Law of God to suit their own desires.
What should I do if I am confused by the opinions of wicked men and impostors? St Paul reminds us: all scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good works. When we go back to Scripture and how the Church interprets it according to the teaching of the Apostles, we will be trained in righteousness to live our faith in every good works. Paul is clear: we need to belong to God FIRST before we can be proficient and equipped in EVERY good works. We need to be grounded in Jesus Christ who is fully God and fully human, as taught by the Church from the time of the Apostles.
Lord, there are many wicked people and impostors who deceive and are deceived. Lead me away from them. Help me to understand Scripture as you have taught the Apostles. Let it reveal to me your true divinity and your true humanity so I may remain steadfast in the faith. I am weak and will fail. Help me to remain steadfast in time of persecution. Let me remember, you are my peace. Let me stand in awe of your Word, and accept you as my Lord and Savior and live my life accordingly.