Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops – Readings

Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5; Psalm 95; Luke 10:1-9 

The Gospel reading speaks of the instructions that Jesus gives to 72 disciples as he sends them out on a mission to do the same work that he himself is doing. His opening words are as true now as they were in the days of Timothy and Titus:

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Further instructions gave warnings of the dangers that disciples would encounter in spreading a message of love and peace and fellowship. They were also to travel with the very minimum of bag and baggage, and not to be choosy about the places where they were offered hospitality.

Their message was to be one of healing. Not just physical healing but healing of all kinds, a making whole of people’s lives and of relationships. In doing this, they were bringing the Reign of God into the places where they visited. For it is love and peace and an ability to live together in mutual care and support that are the marks of God’s Reign in our lives.

This was what Timothy and Titus devoted their lives to doing. We – whatever our status in the Christian community – are called on to do exactly the same.

There is a choice of First Readings: the first is from the Second Letter to Timothy and the other from the Letter to Titus.

As mentioned above, these two letters are purported to come from the hand of Paul, but recent studies suggest that they are from a later hand, although they surely reflect Paul’s thoughts and feelings.

In the passage from the Letter to Timothy, Paul expresses his deep affection for Timothy, his companion on many missions, and a strong desire to see him. He thanks God for Timothy’s faith, which he owes to his Jewish mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. At the same time, he reminds Timothy of the gift he received when Paul laid his hands on him. That gift, says Paul, was not one of timidity but one of power, love and self-control, bringing with it the courage of witnessing to the Gospel even when, as in Paul’s case, it involved persecution and suffering. Like Paul, Timothy was to rely:

…on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling.

In the alternative reading from the Letter to Titus, Paul reminds his fellow missionary of the duties of an apostolic person. It is:

…to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness…

In the case of Titus, Paul reminds him that he has been sent to Crete to set up the Christian communities in each town, appointing an elder or presbyter as a leader in each one. Titus’ role was one of episcopus or ‘overseer’, to coordinate the Christian witness of these communities, making of them a community of communities, united with Christ and with each other.

In a way that is highly relevant for Church life today, the three readings suggest both the dynamic and essentially apostolic nature of Christian witness, and how it is to be exercised in a community setting.

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