Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God,
a workman who causes no disgrace,
imparting the word of truth without deviation.
St. Paul encourages his friend Timothy today to remain faithful to God and the Gospel and to be a tireless worker for the Truth. Those qualities make this reading such an appropriate one for the feast of St. Boniface, bishop and martyr.
Boniface was a Benedictine monk in England. He gave up the real possibility of being elected abbot of his community in order to reach out to the German people. Pope Gregory II sent Boniface to a Germany where paganism was a way of life, and where the clergy were at best uneducated and at worst corrupt and disobedient. Reporting all of this back to Pope Gregory, the Holy Father commissioned him to reform the German Church. He was provided with letters of introduction to civil and religious authorities, but even so met with some resistance and interference by both lay people and clergy. Yet, he was extremely successful, centering his reforms around teaching the virtue of obedience to the clergy and establishing houses of prayer similar to Benedictine monasteries. Boniface and 53 companions were finally martyred during a mission, in which he was preparing converts for Confirmation.
What guided Boniface, what guided Paul and Timothy, was the words of today’s Gospel reading, those words which tell us the greatest of the commandments:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
When we love as we are loved, we cannot help but remain close to God and be vessels of grace to others and of life to the Church. Boniface, Paul and Timothy were men who loved this deeply. We are called to love that way too, today and every day, for the honor and glory of God.