Memorial of Saint Boniface, bishop and martyr
(II Timothy 3:10-17; Mark 12:35-37)
Today’s first reading sounds like a description of the missionary activity of St. Boniface. Much like St. Paul, Boniface experienced hardship and persecution in preaching the gospel in Germany. Yet faithful to his mandate to convert the German peoples, Boniface became enormously successful. He was born in England, became a monk, and followed the call to preach the gospel in foreign lands. He died a martyr after resigning from his position as archbishop of Mainz and patriarch of Germany.
Paul assures Timothy that faithfulness to Christ brings suffering. There is irony here because Christ is the epitome of divine virtue. Shouldn’t such virtue be admired and not punished? And it is; most of all, virtue pleases God who rewards those who possess it with eternal life. But there are people for whom another’s virtue is an obstacle to their purposes. Some will mock concern for poor, young women whom they want to exploit for profit in the sex trade. They will also attack anyone who threatens their business.
We must not be naïve in following Christ. There is much to commend it – good people as friends and an eternal destiny. But there are also challenges like those who resent the practice of virtue. Let’s keep our eyes on the saints like Boniface today. They had a clear vision of what they hoped to achieve in life. They also were wise not to rely on their own resources but on God’s grace.