Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops – First Reading

Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5

Note: When the Memorial to Saints Timothy and Titus falls on a weekday, the First Reading must be taken from the Memorial Readings in lieu of the First Reading for Ordinary Time.

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

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 both readings suggest the dynamic and essentially apostolic nature of Christian witness, and how it is to be exercised in a community setting.

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