The names Timothy and Titus are known to some of us who read the letters of Paul in the Scriptures but I knew little about them except from cursory readings of Paul’s perspective. Today we honor them as saints. It would be easy to conclude that their sainthood came because of their commitment to keeping up with the indefatigable Paul for whom “globe-trotting” was an everyday event. It appears that Paul was very fond of both of these disciples of his and that he counted on them for support personally and for the mission of spreading the faith. In the one very short letter to Titus Paul speaks of him as “my true child in our common faith” and outlines the essential task he has given to Titus to complete: “For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.” (TI 1:5)
I learned a lot more this morning about Titus on the Franciscan website http://www.americancatholic.org where I also found a new detail of my affinity for Paul’s second letter to Timothy. When recalling his ancestors, Paul writes the following: “I yearn to see you again…as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice…” (2 TM 1) It seems that Timothy was from a “mixed marriage” – his father being a Greek and his mother a Jew, which made him, in the eyes of the Jews, an illegitimate child. It was through the influence of his grandmother Lois, who first became a Christian, that Timothy was led to Paul and became one of his most trusted friends, sent on many difficult missions by Paul even at a young age.
His relationships with these men have had a humanizing effect on my image of Paul whose words in some of his letters can be off-putting in their directives to the communities who received them. This morning, seeing my name in print in the Scriptures, I remembered the first time I read it and how I was instantly more interested in what Paul was saying. That was in the days when I dismissed Paul because of his “anti-woman” reputation from some of his writings. Now, with the benefit of age and experience, I have come to appreciate the man, Paul, in the totality of his experience and personality. I think sometimes what it would be like to have even a fraction of his zeal for Christ and the gospel. And I am grateful to know that he had companions on the journey to share both the sufferings and the joy of it all.