God Calls All of Us to Share in the Same Crown of Glory as Saint Paul
Paul was living in a narrow prison as though it was heaven itself and he bore the wounds and the lashes more readily than others reach for rewards. Indeed he regarded his sufferings as prizes and therefore called them a grace or gift.
Perhaps at this point someone might say that that all this was pleasant to him because of Christ; and I agree with this because the things that sadden us were the source of great joy to him. I need not think only of his perils and hardships. It was true even of the intense sorrow he felt that made him cry out: Who is weak that I do not share his weakness? Who is scandalized that I am not consumed with indignation?
But I urge you not only to admire but also to imitate this splendid example of virtue, for if we do, we can share in his crown as well. Listen to Paul's own words: I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day -- and not only to me but to all who have loved his appearing. Do you see how he calls all of us to share the same glory? Now since the same crown of glory is offered to all, let us eagerly strive to become worthy of these promised blessings.
In thinking of Paul we should not consider only his noble and lofty virtues or the strong and ready will that disposed him for such great graces. We should also realize that we share the same nature as Paul in every respect, for he had all things in common with us. If we do, then even what is difficult will seem to us easy and light, and after labouring for a short while here on earth, we shall wear forever this incorruptible immortal crown through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all glory and power belongs now and always through endless ages. Amen.
1 Timothy 4:1-8
Almighty and everliving God,
increase in us your gift of faith,
that forsaking what lies behind,
we may run the race before us
in obedience to Christ's commandments,
and win from him the crown of everlasting joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.