I don’t ever recall the Church celebrating a feast in honor of St. Paul’s companions Timothy and Titus even though they have been known to me as recipients of Paul’s letters. Today I hear them accorded the title of “Saint” which clearly they deserve because of their zeal in spreading the gospel for which they eventually lost their lives. A few things stand out for me after reading commentary and thinking about Paul’s letters to each of them.
- Commentaries put their death date around the year 95 so although they were early followers of Christ, they were not among the first apostles. Evidence points up the diversity in the early Christian community because Titus was a Greek Gentile whereas Timothy had a Greek father and Jewish mother. An interesting note (for me, at least) was the influence of Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, mentioned in one of Paul’s letters. She was a very early Christian who, I’m guessing, may have had some influence on her grandson’s conversion.
- Both of these men were close friends of Paul and lent him support personally and as an intermediary in the communities to which Paul sent them. Clearly, Paul’s ministry was bolstered by their support in more ways than one.
- Not simply missionaries, both of these men became administrators of the communities in which they served. Timothy, known to be very young for his role, was compared in the Franciscan commentary to a modern “harried bishop” and Titus was charged by Paul with “organizing, correcting abuses and appointing presbyter-bishops” on the island of Crete. They certainly knew the meaning of “multi-tasking.”
What all of this points up for me is not only that different gifts are essential for the work to be done, but also that “faith is caught, not taught” by people who exhibit the depth of their own faith to others, and that friends are very important; we cannot persevere without them, even if the relationships are carried on from a distance. (Note the warmth in Paul’s letters for both of these men.)
After all this pondering, I find myself conjuring images of these two admirable men as they go about their ministry. I see them arriving by boat, smiling with enthusiasm toward their greeters and exuding love with their every step, writing messages back to Paul of all the happenings of the day or the month and eagerly receiving his response…How grateful I am for their fellowship in the communion of saints to which we all belong!