This week we celebrate the feast of Saints Timothy and Titus who were bishops in the early Church, appointed by Paul and entrusted with great responsibilities. We really do not know much about Titus except that he was mentored and sent forth by Paul, entrusted with some rather difficult ministerial tasks. Of Timothy, we know he traveled with Paul while still a youth and was empowered to be a bishop while rather young. Both men responded to a call to service and were trained by Paul, and both men had very difficult jobs to do in large cities as leaders of new churches which were in great need of education and discipline.
St. Timothy was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother, so he had understanding he could apply to both Jewish and gentile converts to Christianity. St. Paul saw that he was filled with great potential and began to teach him when Timothy was still a boy. As a youth he accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary journeys. This not only gave him exposure to the church as someone destined for leadership, but he also was able to learn from Paul through participation in his ministry. He began to preach during this time, which in those days was incredibly unusual for one so young. Therefore it is clear that Paul had a great deal of trust in the ability of Timothy. Paul sent him on many journeys to spread the faith and it seems he received the most difficult tasks of all of Paul’s protégés. He was with Paul when Paul was under house arrest, and was himself arrested at some point during his own ministry. We know that when Timothy became bishop of the entire church in Ephesus he was still young enough to struggle with credibility issues. In those days his youth would have been significant because old age was associated with wisdom and youth was associated with ‘being seen and not heard,’ more or less. Therefore he must have had great gifts in order to overcome the stereotypes which he faced when he was young.
I imagine that is what Timothy experienced in attempting to accomplish his difficult tasks. St. Paul had the wisdom to know Timothy would encounter resistance merely because of his youth, so he continually encouraged him to “hang in there,” relying on the gifts God gave him. This is not wisdom only for young people; it is wisdom for all people. All of us have been given a mission by nature of our baptism. That mission is to bring Jesus and His gospel message to all those whom we encounter. We are to teach by word and deed. Paul told Timothy to set an example for all those who believe by being a leader who practiced what he preached. If we live the gospel then we, too, will not only practice what we preach, but we will often preach without needing words.
Therefore, let us be like Titus, lightening burdens and bringing peace simply by reaching out and doing what we can. Let us be like Timothy, offering whatever gifts we have for organization and leadership, recognizing that we should not leave tasks we can do to some other person ‘out there.’ If we were given the gifts, then let us be the doer, encouraging others to work for peace and justice or bringing improvement to a community. And if we are the ones feeling a little beaten up by life, let us take to heart Paul’s suggestion to Timothy: “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Tim 5:23) That is, we need to be willing to receive from others as well as to give. For a community to thrive, everyone needs to offer what they can.
May we be courageous in our example to those who are young, teaching them to use their gifts! May we be like St. Paul, accepting and nurturing the gifts of those who are gaining experience! May we work with one another, bringing what we can to those in need! May we pray for the grace to be like Saints Timothy and Titus, taking on the difficult work of loving and healing by being peacemakers and leaders! And may we trust in God who is the giver of all good gifts! Let us continue to meet in the heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
Note: Next post will be on February 12.
1. The first icon is of Saints Timothy and Titus.
2. Next is a series of photos, all of which are mine. This one is of the shoreline on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. I chose it because it seemed like it could have been what St. Titus experienced on his travels to far off lands.
3.I took this at the diaconal ordination of some young men in my diocese. Due to their younger age I am sure they had the experience at some point, even after ordination, of being undervalued due to a perceived lack of "wisdom and age." And I am sure they took to heart the advice of St. Paul to Timothy, persevering in their ministries.
4. This is a sunset taken near Noto, Sicily. I chose this photo because it seems to me that at the end of the day, we need to reflect upon what transpired and offer thanks to God where we were blessed and ask for grace where we struggled. (That is to say, make a prayerful examination of the events of the day, such as the Ignatian Examen.)
5. The final image is called I Hold Out My Hand and My Heart Will Be In It, painted by Fr. William Hart McNichols. It can be found at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/i-hold-out-my-hand-and-my-heart-will-be-in-it-225-william-hart-mcnichols.html. If you are interested in obtaining it in one of a variety of mediums, including cards, the web address given will walk you through it.