Nov 28th - Irenarcus
You know how when you watch a movie and there are all sorts of minions working for the bad guy and you think to yourself (well, at least I do): "This is this guy's job. He gets up every morning and goes to work for an evil genius. Does he think about it or is it just a job?"
Irenarcus was an official torturer and executioner during the persecutions of Diocletian. So while he did not work for an evil genius, he did the dirty work for a guy who decided that Christians should be tortured and killed in order to change their minds. It was his job to try to persuade people through torture and death.
After a while he apparently did think about it. Impressed by the courage of his victims born from their Faith, women in particular, he converted, which placed him in the position of now being the tortured and executed.
In a Bond movie most of the minions die defending a morally objectionable leader. Irenarcus died defending the Faith of those he once persecuted. Like Paul before him, his change of heart was brought about by Jesus and the love of Jesus he saw in those he persecuted. Unlike Paul, he was not struck down but gradually worn down by the Faith that Jesus brought to us.
How are we influencing those around us? Is our humility and joy changing the lives of those around us or are we contentious, argumentative, non-charitable, or lacking charity? Jesus came to sow division (cf. Luke 12:49-53) but not through hatred and oppression. He humbly did so through peace. It is contentious because peace and humility elicit a negative response from those who are challenged by a truth that is different than the one they adhere to. Sometimes we are those who are intolerant and sometimes we are those not tolerated. We are called to be the latter and love is our only weapon.
Irenarcus reminds us to be tolerant with love and to allow the hardness of our own hearts to be melted by love.
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen. Finally, brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
-- 1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2
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