Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Timothy and Titus, Companions of Saint Paul

Today the church remembers Timothy and Titus, Companions of Saint Paul.

Both Timothy and Titus were Gentiles, i.e., non-Jews, converted by Paul. Each seems to have accepted the Christian faith at the end of a long and deep personal struggle. It was not an easy step to take. Nor did the early church find it easy to accept a Gentile into the "Household of the faithful".

These men became close friends of Paul, and they accompanied him on several of his missionary journeys where they proved to be invaluable assistants, especially in the Greek cities of Corinth and Thessalonica. 

From Paul's letter to Titus, which is contained in the New Testament, we assume that the apostle left Titus on the island of Crete. Titus is believed to have been the chief organizer of the church on that island. Paul frequently used Timothy as a trouble-shooter and follow-up man in his ministry. Timothy followed Paul to Rome and visited him in prison there, but escaped the Neronian persecution. Timothy spent his last days witnessing to Christ in Ephesus where, according to Eusebius, he was beaten to death by a mob of pagans among whom he had opposed the licentious festivities of the goddess Diana.

The General Roman Calendar venerates Timothy together with Titus with a memorial on 26 January, the day after the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. From the 13th century until 1969 the feast of Timothy (alone) was on 24 January, the day before that of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Along with Titus and Silas, Timothy is commemorated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church on 26 January.

Almighty God, you called Timothy and Titus to be evangelists and teachers, and made them strong to endure hardship: Strengthen us to stand fast in adversity, and to live godly and righteous lives in this present time, that with sure confidence we may look for our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Meditation for January 26, 2016

John 5:17 My Father is still working, and I also am working.

When I was about twenty-five, I read the Bible from front to back. I remember the way the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke disturbed me. Jesus was so enigmatic. The Jesus in John, however, confirmed my understanding of him. Almost forty years later, I am having the opposite experience as I read through John to write these reflections.

In John, Jesus seems to have no room for my doubts. He is so confident, and the unpredictable humanity I find in the other gospels, which I now appreciate, is harder to see here. Like any other relationship, perhaps, my relationship with Jesus in the gospels has changed over time.

As I evolve over time, each encounter with Jesus brings surprises and new understandings. While I don’t find this rediscovery process entirely pleasant or easy, if it were any other way, my faith would be static and childlike my entire life. I must wrestle with the Jesus I find in John, just as I wrestled with the Jesus of Mark and Matthew and Luke, and be changed again.