by Joel V. Ocampo
Every year, the Catholic Church celebrates the Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops during January 26. Who is St. Timothy? Who is St. Titus? Are they the addressees of the New Testament Letters written by St. Paul? Yes; but there’s more. As we celebrate their memorial and the National Bible Week 2022, let us look at the Scriptures and discover their role and participation in the mission of the Lord.
Timothy was first introduced when St. Paul reached Derbe and Lystra (near the present day Karaman City in South Central Turkey), during his 2nd missionary journey. The Scriptures tell us that Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. The faithful in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him (Acts 16:1-2).
When St. Paul preached the Gospel in Thessalonica, the Jews became jealous and recruited some worthless men loitering in the public square, formed a mob, and set the city in turmoil. Thus, St. Paul and his companions were forced to leave the city (Acts 17:1-9). However, those who believed St. Paul requested to hear more Good News. Thus, St. Paul sent Timothy to them, whom he called “our brother and co-worker for God in the gospel of Christ”, to strengthen and encourage the Thessalonians in their faith (cf. Acts 17:14; 1 Thes. 3:2). Soon, Timothy returned, bringing the good news of the faith and love of the believers in Thessalonica (1 Thes. 3:6).
When St. Paul made up his mind to travel through Macedonia and Achaia, and then to go on to Jerusalem, he sent to Macedonia (in Greece) two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, while he himself stayed for a while in the province of Asia (Acts 19:21-22). St. Paul also sent Timothy to the faithful in Corinth. He said in his letter, “I am sending you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord; he will remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, just as I teach them everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17). St. Paul further told the Corinthians “Be sure to make him feel welcome among you, because he is working for the Lord, just as I am” (1 Cor. 16:10). Timothy, regarded by St. Paul as “beloved and faithful son in the Lord” was sent to various missions. St. Paul even planned to send him to the Philippians to get the latest news about the faith of this Christian community (Phil. 2:19).
If we read the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy, we’ll see that the faith of Timothy was the product of the sincere faith that first lived in his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5). From them, Timothy learned from infancy, the sacred scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15).
Timothy has a timid personality. Thus, St. Paul exhorted him, “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God” (2 Tim. 1:6-8). As a missionary, he was just young, compared to the traditional elders of the first Christian communities. Therefore, St. Paul encouraged him, “Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
St. Paul requested Timothy to stay in Ephesus to “instruct certain people not to teach false doctrines or to concern themselves with myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the plan of God that is to be received by faith” (1 Tim 1:3-4).
While separated by the mission, St. Paul sent his letters instructing Timothy on his duty about the following:
restrain false and useless teaching (1 Tm 1:3–11; 4:1–5; 6:3–16);
gives rules for aid to widows (1 Tm 5:3–8) and their selection for charitable ministrations (1 Tm 5:9–16);
selections for the offices of bishop and deacon (1 Tm 3:1–13);
relation of slaves with their masters (1 Tm 6:1–2);
obligations of the wealthier members of the community (1 Tm 6:17–19).
Titus, was a Gentile Christian. He went from Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1; cf. Acts 15:2). He was with Paul on his third missionary journey (2 Cor 2:13; 7:6, 13–14). Titus acted as a commissioner of Paul at Corinth (2 Cor 8:6, 16). St. Paul described him as “my partner and co-worker” for the Corinthians (2 Cor. 8:23). According to tradition he was the first bishop of Crete (fifth largest island in the Mediterranean). St. Paul left him there so that he “might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town” (Titus 1:3).
When a severe famine devasted Judea around year 46–48 C.E., St. Paul encouraged his Christian communities to help. Titus was particularly entrusted with organizing the alms collection for poor Christians of Judaea. It is in this collection for the poor where St. Paul said these famous lines, “If the eagerness is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have…whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 8:12; 9:6-8).
In his letter, St. Paul gave these instructions and reminders to Titus (2:1-7; 3:9, 14):
you must say what is consistent with sound doctrine;
older men should be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love, and endurance;
older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good;
train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers;
urge the younger men, similarly, to control themselves;
show yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity;
avoid foolish arguments;
let our people, too, learn to devote themselves to good works to supply urgent needs, so that they may not be unproductive.
Let us pray
O God, who adorned Saints Timothy and Titus with apostolic virtues, grant through the intercession of them both, that, living justly and devoutly in this present age, we may merit to reach our heavenly homeland. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Saints Timothy and Titus, pray for us.