Second Reading: 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 17-18

Time to Reflect

Popular Translation

6 I am like the wine of praise sailors pour out into the water before they set sail. For, the time for me to leave this earth will soon be here. 7 I have played the good game. I have finished the race. I have been faithful to God. 8 God has saved a crown of glory for me. The Lord, the good judge, will place it on my head on the Last Day. But it is not for me alone. The crown will be for everyone who yearns to see the Lord appear.

17 The Lord has always stood beside me and given me strength. So, through me, his message could completely convince everyone who hears it. He even rescued me when I could have died! 18 In the end, the Lord will save me from all evil and will give me a place in his heavenly Kingdom. Praise the Lord forever! Amen!

Literal Translation

6 For I am already being poured out as a sacrifice, and the right time for my departure is present. 7 I have struggled (for the prize) in the good contest, I have completed the race, I have kept the faith. 8 The crown of righteousness is laid away for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will set upon me on that Day, not for me alone, but for the (ones) loving his appearance.

17 But the Lord stood beside me and gave me strength, that through me the preaching might be fully convincing and all peoples might hear, and I was rescued from the mouth of the lion. 18 The Lord will rescue me from all evil deeds and will save me for his Kingdom in heaven, to whom is the glory into ages of ages. Amen.

4:6 “I am already being poured out as a sacrifice” This was a customary offering made on sea-going ships before departure. During his journeys, Paul must have seen this sacrifice many times. The verb used in this sentence is rare.

4:8 “the (ones) loving his appearance” Paul referred to fellow Christians who yearned for the Lord’s appearance.

4:17 “the preaching might be fully convincing” is literally “the preaching might be fulfilled up (in others).”

“I was rescued from the mouth of the lion” referred to Paul’s rescue. The verse he quoted was from Psalm 22:22.

4:18 “into ages of ages” means “forever.”

There are times to stand back and reflect on one’s life work. While it is a letter to a younger minister, 2 Timothy is such a reflection, a mix of melancholy over the past and determination for the future.

For Paul, the time of departure is at hand. He used various images (drink which poured out, sprinter who has won the race) to indicate his death is near [6-7]. This is not the first time Paul has reflected on death (see Phil. 1:21-23 or 2 Cor. 5:2). But Paul still has hope in the resurrection [8]. Here, Paul represented the mature Christian, reflection but not regret over the past, anticipation but not anxiety over the future.

Paul placed himself in the hands of divine providence. Just as He had shown in the past, God was still in charge of Paul’s life [17]. This realization was the basis for Paul’s praise. No matter what happened, God would bring Paul safely home to his reward [18].

The older we get, the more we can reflect on our experiences. In 2 Timothy, the author reflected on the life of St. Paul. Sometimes, we have the luxury of looking on our lives; that view backward might bring joy, might bring melancholy or regret. But, when we look back, let's follow St. Paul's lead. Let's look through the eyes of God at our lives. In other words, don't look back on life as a personal possession, but as shared journey with the divine.

Reflect on your life experience. How has God been your partner, your friend, your Lord?