Today’s readings deal with a basic fact: anyone who follows a spiritual path is subject to attack. It can be from without or from within. There are those on other paths who disagree with your path. There are those on your path who don’t think you are complying enough. Of course, there are also those of no path who resent your having any path! And then there are your own doubts. Paul describes preparing for this in terms of what might be his own experience serving his duty as a Roman conscript when he was younger.
The Gospel reading gives an example of how it works well, in the story of the nobleman whose son was healed.