26TH JANUARY 2022
2 Tim 1: 1‐8 or Tit 1: 1‐5; Ps 96: 1‐3, 7‐8a, 10; Lk 10: 1‐9
MEMORIAL OF STS. TIMOTHY AND TITUS
PASSING THE BUTTON OF FAITH
I am struck by the beginning of St. Paul’s letter to Timothy (and to Titus ‐ the other alternate First Reading). Using a form common to Greek epistles (letters) in his time, Paul begins with a short description of himself – “by the will of God, an apostle of Christ Jesus sent to proclaim the promise of life in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1: 1) and “Paul, a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ” (Titus 1: 1). Paul realizes that he has been sent by Jesus. “Apostle” literally means “one who is sent” or “some one on a mission (sending).” Paul knows that he did not choose to be an apostle. It is Jesus who has chosen him to announce the Good News of life ‐ eternal life. Yet the calling to be herald of Good News was not limited to Paul. He was to hand on what he had received. Thus, he continues his letter: “to Timothy, my child whom I love. . .I am grateful to God, whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day” (2 Timothy 1: 2‐3) and “to Titus, my true child in our common faith” (Titus 1: 4).
Paul is a traditionalist. And by that I don’t mean necessarily a conservative. “Tradition” literally means “handing down” or “handing across.” Paul is aware that his faith is based upon what has been handed down to him from his ancestors in faith, and more importantly from Jesus Himself and from the other apostles. That which is handed down should continue to be handed down. Tradition does not stop, it keeps going on, and on, and on. Paul also realizes that Timothy has come to his faith through tradition. He received part of his faith (the Jewish roots) from his mother, Eunice. He also received his Christian roots from his grandmother (Lois), the first Christian in Timothy’s family. Paul thanks God that Timothy has had people in his life who handed down their faith. Paul also realizes that he, Paul, has also been instrumental in Timothy’s and Titus’ faith, and thus Timothy and Titus are Paul’s children in faith.
What an edifying beginning to a letter. Paul thanks God for the gift of faith. He also speaks of his great concern for his students. Paul is grateful for the tradition, the “handing down,” which has led to his followers’ commitment to Jesus. Paul, however, does not want Timothy and Titus to sit on the tradition they have received.
Paul reminds them that they must hand down the faith to others. Timothy and Titus, being quite young, are at times reluctant to pass on (hand down, “traditionize”) the faith (1 Timothy 4: 12). Paul speaks to Timothy about the Spirit of God Who has been given to Timothy, and that the Holy Spirit “is no cowardly spirit, but rather the Spirit Who makes us strong, loving, and wise” (2 Timothy 1: 7). Paul warns Timothy that sharing the Gospel may lead to hardships and difficult times. And he reminds Titus of the directives which Paul gave to him.
What I take from these readings is our role in the plan of proclaiming the Good News. We first of all are obviously indebted to God for giving us the gift of faith and inviting us to be Jesus’ siblings by our doing the will of the Father just as He does and as Mary does. Yet, we usually come to that faith through the handing down (tradition) of someone else. Paul speaks of this in Romans 10: 14‐15. We are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors in faith. Sometimes the ones who hand down (“traditionize”) are our family members (like Timothy’s mother and grandmother). At other times it is the people of faith whom we encounter at our work, or friends we have known.
Sometimes it may be a great preacher, like Paul. We need to thank all who have helped us get to this point in our journey of faith. And since we may not be able to contact some of those directly, we can thank God for sending them to us and ask God to extend grace and blessings to them, whether they be still living on earth or have transitioned to be with God in heaven. I spend time each day reflecting and praying for all those who have “traditionized” me and those whom I have helped “traditionized.” Like Timothy, we need to realize that faith does not stop with us. It must continue to be “traditionized” – handed down. We must share our faith with others. This is what it means to be doing the will of the Father. This is what makes us part of the Family of Jesus. We must live our faith fully and actively, and if necessary or at the right time, we can put words with our lived‐out proclamation of the Good News.
What I feel challenged to do today is to continue to reflect on those who have shared their faith with me. To ask God to bless them. I think of my parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends. I am truly grateful to God for allowing others to “traditionize” their faith to me. I also feel challenged to hand down what I have been given. I realize that there are many who may never hear the Good News unless I share my faith with them. I am called to “traditionize” the gift of faith. It means I must live an authentic Christian life especially at home with my family, and with those whom I serve in ministry, and with all with whom I come in contact. The act of “traditionizing” is not something which happens once and then we are finished. It must be a constant, daily, moment‐
by‐moment force within our lives.