Timothy and Titus were companions of St.Paul on his missionary journeys and they continued his mission. Timothy was given leadership of the church at Ephesus; Titus assumed leadership of the church in Crete. We have Paul’s letters to them: one letter to Titus and two letters to Timothy, most likely written from house arrest in Rome.
Like Jesus, Paul never saw himself acting alone or handing on a church that was completely developed. He had men and women companions in his ministry and he recognized a church in transition, evolving from a “way”, a movement, to a church settled in places like Ephesus and Crete.
We celebrate the feast of Timothy and Titus on January 26th, the day after the feast of Paul’s conversion, as a reminder that Paul recognized others at his side in his work. They also represent another stage in his ministry. Paul and the other apostles were to go to the nations, but the church had to be firmly established in every place visited. The roles of bishops, priests and other ministries began to evolve to fulfill that task. In other words, a local church needed to be organized. The church is missionary, global, sent by Jesus to the nations, but it’s also local, part of a town. city, neighborhood.
The gospel has to be proclaimed day by day, “in season and out of season.” Those who proclaim it to the nations have to stay “in that same house, eating and drinking.” They need consistent prayer, a stable base, a home. The feasts of the Conversion of Paul and Timothy and Titus explore those two aspects of the church.
Paul’s advice to Timothy is especially interesting. “Stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”
Sounds like Paul is trying to bolster Timothy’s confidence as he loses a powerful mentor. Timothy needs the gift of God to make the church flourish in its own time in Ephesus. It would be a local church. I wonder if Timothy’s mother Eunice and grandmother Lois found a home and were involved there.
Timothy and Titus were given “apostolic virtues” by God to continue the work of Paul and the other apostles, the opening prayer of their feast says. And “May we merit to reach our heavenly homeland” by “living justly and devoutly in this present age.” Like them “we” also are given a task –to work for the church’s growth and development in this present age.
So let’s remember our mentors, mindful that God “ does not give a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self control.” Like the two followers of Paul, we have to hold on to what we are given; it’s our turn to continue their work: “Go into all the world, and proclaim the gospel. I am with you always, says the Lord.”
I see in the notes in the American Bible that the deacons Paul refers to in I Timothy 3, 8-13 may include women as well as men. “This (deacons) seems to refer to women deacons, but may possibly mean the wives of deacons. The former is preferred because the word is used absolutely…”
Why not today? We need women in roles of leadership. I have some in mind who would fit the role very well. I wonder what my mother would say.