A Word in Season
The Contagious Bonds of Faith and Friendship
Today the church liturgy recalls the memorials of Sts. Timothy and Titus, true friends of St. Paul and key players in the evangelization of the nascent Church. Paul, like Jesus, created community wherever he went. The magnetism generated by his burning love for God drew others to the Gospel by his words and extraordinary life.
Encouraged by and through their holy friendships, Paul eventually ordained Timothy to lead the early church at Ephesus, and Titus in Crete. Paul writes affectionately about both men in his pastoral epistles. Paul, their spiritual father and longtime friend, characterizes them as his dear "children." (See 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4.)
Timothy became one of Paul's most significant collaborators. For years, these two friends were inseparable and their ministry benefitted from their alliance. Timothy was a trusted confidant and six of Paul's letters mention him as a co-sender.
Titus was a Gentile, a convert from the church Paul established in Corinth. Paul praised Titus for his fervent heart and missionary spirit as a "partner and co-worker" (2 Cor. 8:6, 16-23). Paul later sent Titus to Crete to preach the gospel and demonstrate how it ought to be lived.
Both Timothy and Titus caught the faith, and being nurtured and formed by it, taught it and handed it on. And by doing so, they honored both God and their friend who inspired their fledgling faith.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus . . .To Timothy, my beloved child . . .
I thank God whom I serve . . . when I remember you constantly in my prayers. As I remember your tears, I long night and day to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith . . .
Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord . . . who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus . . .
Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. (2 Tim. 1:1-9, 13-14)
When God genuinely brings spiritual friendships together, he always has something bigger that in mind than just benefitting the circle of friends. It could be works of mercy, service to the poor, or some apostolate, project, or vocation that will flow from the flood of blessings He has pooled in the people he has united.
For [Jesus said] where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Mt. 18:21).
Indeed, there's no telling what might ignite when interpersonal relationships are caught up in the flames of the Spirit.
Pat Gohn is a Catholic writer, speaker, and the host of the Among Women Podcast and blog. Her book Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is published by Ave Maria Press. Subscribe to “A Word in Season” via email or RSS.