Rarely does the choice of scripture for a saints’ day more accurately describe the saint commemorated as this reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 2:2-12) describes St. David of Wales whose feast we celebrate today.
St. Paul begins by reminding the church at Thessalonika that he “had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.” Well, in the 6th century, David had to have the courage to leave the safety of his Welsh monastery to do battle for the Christian faith against the Pelagian heretics of his day (who basically taught that we are the essential actors in our own salvation rather than the grace of God we discover in Jesus Christ).
This was the “gospel” the apostle Paul proclaimed as well and he says in today’s Epistle:
“…just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the truth of (this) gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.” He goes on to confess, “As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery…nor did we seek praise from mortals…But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you…”
According to his biographers, St. David of
Wales could be strict in the governing of his own monastery; yet he was loving and even gentle in disciplining others when he was called to do so. That’s not an easy balance to strike as anyone in leadership knows well.
Paul says, “you remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day…while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers.”
Well, the Christian believers of
Wales are witnesses to the labor and toil of their most famous patron! They are – in many ways – the harvest of his labors, the mature grain spoken of by Jesus in today’s Gospel. (Mark 4:26-29) St. David founded some eleven monasteries, led an early pilgrimage to the
Holy Land, and was a scholar, a leader, and a man of prayer.
We give thanks for his life and witness today. So I close with words from his 11th century biographer: “May David, whose festival we devoutly celebrate on earth, unite us by his intercessions to the angelic citizens, God being over all!”