The Crown of Righteousness

Beloved:
I am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,
but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. 
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18)   

Scripture Study

4:6 the point of being sacrificed: Or “being poured out as a libation”. The description alludes to the cultic liturgy of Israel, where daily drink offerings of wine were poured out at the base of the Temple altar (Ex 29:38–40; Num 28:7). Evoking this imagery, Paul sees martyrdom as an act of sacrifice and liturgical worship (Phil 2:17) (CCC 2473). my departure: A metaphor for death, which in Paul’s case is both imminent and personally desirable (Phil 1:23). According to tradition, Paul was condemned during the Neronian persecution that began in the mid 60s and was beheaded just outside the city of Rome along the Ostian Way.

4:8 crown of righteousness: The reward of everlasting righteousness (Gal 5:5) that awaits the saints, who have persevered in the grace of God (Jas 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4). The image alludes to the garland or victory wreath used to crown winning athletes in the ancient Olympics (1 Cor 9:25). Paul’s confidence that such a reward awaits him rests on his sense of accomplishment, since after 30 years of ministry, toil, and suffering, he has remained firm in the faith without straying from the course set for him by Christ (2 Tim 4:7; Acts 20:24). He was not nearly so assured of his salvation while the race was still in progress (1 Cor 9:16). ● Is not a crown the reward of good deeds? Yet, this is possible only because God accomplishes good works in men. It is through his mercy that we perform the goods works to which the crown is awarded (St. Augustine, On Grace and Free Will 21). that Day: The Day of Judgment. his appearing: Either the future return of Christ in glory (4:1) or, possibly, his first coming in the flesh (1:10).[1]

 

Reflection

 “I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.
At some point, all of us will face the consciousness of our inevitable death. Will we be able to reflect on our faith journey with a similar story as St Paul? Will our story be one of the good fight or the avoided one? Life is a battle of good and evil. In our earthly competitions, we fight and strive for days and the only reward we receive is a crown which withers in a matter of hours. The spiritual battle of the virtuous versus unprincipled life, leads to a heavenly crown we are given of glory and honor whose brilliance lasts forever.[2]

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church
[1] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 400–401.
[2] Saint Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians, and Pastoral Letters, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishing, 2005), 122–123.