Timothy and Titus were co-workers and companions of St. Paul on his early missionary journeys to Asia Minor. Later, Paul entrusted Timothy to lead the church at Ephesus; Titus assumed leadership of the church in Crete. Paul wrote two letters to Timothy and one letter to Titus.
Paul’s main advice to them was to shepherd the whole flock in their care. The old, the young, men and women, the sick and the well, all belong to the church. Jesus Christ came to love and care for them all. Be like Jesus to them, Paul says. That’s still what people in ministry are called to do today.
Like Jesus, Paul never saw himself acting alone; he looked for others to share in his ministry, and so we celebrate the feast of Timothy and Titus after the feast of Paul’s conversion, January 25th.
Some mistakingly consider Paul the founder of the Christian faith rather than Jesus. He’s not. True, he’s a strong personality, as his letters and missionary journeys make clear, but his faith came from the Risen Christ, who revealed himself through the scriptures and heavenly signs.
Paul makes that clear: the church is not his, or Peter’s church, or Apollo’s; it’s the church of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Serve the church, Paul says to Timothy and Titus. They are to be “slaves of Christ,” like him their role is, “not to be served, but to serve.” ( Philippians 1,1)
The Letters to Timothy and Titus show a church in transition when the roles of bishops, priests and other ministries were evolving. The notes in the New American Bible–always worth reading–point to the changing nature of these offices.
Reading the notes this time around, I see that the deacons Paul refers to in I Timothy 3, 8-13 may include women as well as men. “This (deacons) seems to refer to women deacons, but may possibly mean the wives of deacons. The former is preferred because the word is used absolutely…”
Why not today? We need women in roles of leadership. I have some in mind who would fit the role very well.