Today we celebrate the Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus, two disciples of St. Paul. St. Timothy went on to become pastor of one of the communities founded by St. Paul during his missionary journeys; namely the Community of Ephesus. St. Titus became the pastor of Crete, an island in the Mediterranean which St. Paul never visited. However, St. Titus is mentioned by St. Paul, particularly in his First Letter to the Corinthians. The Christian Scriptures include two letters from St. Paul to St. Timothy and one letter from St. Paul to St. Titus.
These letters concern themselves with two issues for the early Church; namely, guarding the faithful against false teachers and organizing the Church and its activity. The letters show us that already in the latter part of the first century, the church was organizing itself into different ministerial roles.
However, the part of the reading that caught my eye this morning was the statement that St. Paul makes to St. Timothy about longing to see him again. “I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith.” Though our circumstances are different, we find ourselves in the same kind of position, separated from our friends and loved ones. It looks like it will be quite a while before we are united again. So St. Paul’s words are particularly apt for our situation today. I was also caught by a statement near the end of the passage: “Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”
Our enforced separation is a hardship. Unfortunately, it has brought about a marked increase in suicides and in mental illness. So as we celebrate the Memorial of these two disciples of St. Paul, let us lift up all those who are suffering during this time of separation and sequestration, asking God to give strength to our leaders and scientists.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator