2 Timothy 1: 1-8, or Titus 1: 1-5
Psalm 96: 1-2a, 2b-3, 7, 8a, 10
Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops in the early Church. Both of them were travelling companions of the Apostle Paul. He was their spiritual father, referring to Timothy as “my dear child” and Titus as “my true child in our common faith.” Timothy served the Church in Ephesus and Titus on the island of Crete. In the two optional first readings, Paul gives them instructions about how to live their faith.
Timothy appears to have been quite a tender soul. Paul recalls Timothy’s tears upon learning that he would be separated from his father in the faith. Timothy would stay in Ephesus and Paul, the missionary, had to move on. Yet, he knew that Timothy was strong because his faith had taken root in him, even as it had in his grandmother, Lois and his mother, Eunice. Do grandparents today realize the spiritual impact they have on their grandchildren? Lois apparently did. Paul says that sincere faith “lived” in her. Her faith was alive. Timothy saw this. He also saw it in his mother, Eunice. Paul had laid his hands on Timothy and given him the gifts he needed to perform his ministry but would Paul have ever even known who Timothy was if it were not for those two godly women? Would we be celebrating a Memorial to Saint Timothy if there had never been a Lois and a Eunice who were alive with faith? How many potential saints are there in our world today that will never be set on fire by the Holy Spirit because their grandparents, godparents, and parents are not dedicated to Jesus Christ? Paul tells Timothy to “stir into flame” the gift God had given him, to not be timid, to be unashamed of the Gospel or of Paul, and to bear hardship for the Gospel through God’s strength. Timothy must act. He is responsible for his actions. But would he even be there if it were not for those two faith-filled women?
We do not know much about Titus. He was a Gentile convert and Paul believed that he had the ability to organize people and solve problems. He sent him to Crete to “set right what remains to be done.” He would do this through building up the Church in the towns on the island and ordaining priests to serve those parishes. Paul begins his letter to Titus by emphasizing that from time immemorial God planned to reveal his good news to the nations and had entrusted the preaching of this word to Paul. Now Paul entrusts it to Titus who will entrust it to the priests of his diocese. Paul’s message to Titus and Timothy appears to be the response of today’s psalm: Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Can you imagine how the friends of Paul must have felt when they heard that this up and coming rabbi who had persecuted Christians even to the point of death had actually become a disciple of Jesus Christ? They must have thought he was out of his mind. How did Timothy and Titus’ friends think about their giving up everything to follow Paul around the world to preach a crucified Christ and ultimately spend their years in back-breaking work building up a fledgling group of that Christ’s disciples? “Crazy” is the term that comes to mind. Paul, Timothy, Titus, young seminarians, religious novices, and anyone else who turns their back on the world to follow Jesus are in good company; even Jesus’ own relatives thought he was crazy, too. Pray for more lunatics!
By George Butterfield