January 26, 2018

Timothy and Titus

January 26, 2018:  SS. Timothy and Titus, Bishops

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For the gospel

Pope Francis
Homily:  Paul generated Timothy with the “folly of preaching.”  The reading also mentions “tears” because Paul preaches with courage, not sweet half-truths.  The announcement of the gospel can't be lukewarm.  Preaching is a 'slap’ that pushes you forward.  Paul describes preaching as "folly"; to say that God became man and then was crucified and rose again has a pinch of folly not to be tempted by mediocrity or half-truths.
Faith is to be transmitted through witness which gives strength to the Word.  People said of the first disciples, “How they love each other.”  In some parishes, many wag about one person or another… and instead of saying, "how they love each other," one could comment on how people speak badly of each other.  How can you transmit faith in an atmosphere spoiled by gossip or slander?  True testimony explained is doing works of charity and asking yourself why others behave or live like they do, not speaking badly of others.  Evil acts as “counter-testimony,” bad testimony; it takes faith away and weakens people.
Paul reminds Timothy his faith first lived in his grandmother and his mother.  Faith is transmitted in the womb of the Church.  The Church’s motherhood is prolonged in women's motherhood.  Are mothers and grandmothers like the ones Paul speaks of, or do they trust that the children will learn when they go to catechism?  I'm sad when I see children who can't make the sign of the Cross because their mothers and grandmothers haven't taught them.  Ask the Lord to teach us to be witnesses and preachers and to teach mothers to transmit the faith.
At ecumenical vespers:  The Israelites sang the “Song of Moses and Miriam” after God saved them from the Egyptians, an event Church Fathers saw as an image of Baptism.  All Christians have passed through the waters of Baptism; and the grace of the Sacrament has destroyed sin and death.  For this reason we sing God’s praise.
My experience binds me to the great story of the salvation of God's people.  Paul's experience of grace led him to seek communion with other Christians.  As soon as we grow in the spiritual life, we understand better that grace brings us together and is to be shared with others.  In recognizing other Christians' baptism, we acknowledge they too have received forgiveness, and God’s grace is at work in them too.  And when differences separate us, we recognize we belong to the same people of the redeemed, the same family of people loved by the Father.
But our growth in the spiritual life is often hard.  When martyrs' blood is shed, they become witnesses of the faith, united in the bond of baptismal grace.  Christians confront challenges that demean human dignity:  flying from conflict and misery, they're victims of human trafficking and other forms of slavery; they suffer hardship and hunger in a world rich in means and poor in love, where inequality continues to grow.  We're called to remember what God has done for us, to help and support one another, and to face challenges with courage and hope, armed only with Jesus and the power of his Gospel.
To CDF Your work in recalling the transcendent vocation of the human person and the relationship between reason and truth and goodness, realized through faith in Christ, appears decisive.  To recognize ourselves and God’s plan, we must open up to God's light.  The growth of requests for euthanasia comes from believing people have power over life.  Many value life for its efficiency and productivity instead of its dignity.  But human life possesses a dignity that renders it untouchable.
Many find it difficult to reflect on pain and suffering, life and death, with hope.  You can offer people a trusting hope that can allow them to live well with a confident perspective toward the future.  This gives your mission a pastoral visage.  Authentic pastors don't abandon people to themselves, their disorientation, and their errors, but with truth and mercy bring them back to rediscover their true selves.
To Pontifical Academy for Theology:  Promote a fruitful encounter between faith and the challenges the world poses.  Look ahead, aware of your identity and wish to relaunch your mission.  You serve the Church by promoting faith, supporting Church teaching, and being open to the demands and challenges of culture.  You confront and dialogue to communicate the Gospel in new contexts, impacted by the needs of a suffering humanity and offering the contribution of faith.  Maintain your relationship with other educational institutions and your cultural exchange; it enriches all interlocutors.
Read
1st-century lamp
  • 2 Tm 1:1-8  Paul, Apostle of Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear child:  I worship God with a clear conscience and pray for you constantly, recalling your faith.  Stir into flame your gift from God.  God gave us a spirit of power, love, and self-control.  Don't be ashamed of your testimony or of me, but bear your hardships with God-given strength.
  • Ti 1:1-5  Paul, Apostle of Jesus Christ for the sake of faith, truth, and eternal life, to Titus, my child in faith:  grace and peace from God and Christ.  I left you so you might set things right and appoint presbyters...
  • Ps 96:1-3, 7-8a, 10  "Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations."  Sing to the Lord.  Tell the nations the Lord is king; me made the world and governs with equity.
  • Mk 4:26-34  “The Kingdom of God is as if a man scattered seed, slept and rose, and the seed sprouted, grew, and yielded fruit, and the man wielded the sickle at harvest.”  “The Kingdom is like a mustard seed, small when sown but becoming so large that birds can dwell in its shade.”  He spoke with many such parables and explained them privately to his disciples.
Reflect

  • Creighton:  Jesus tells us God's kingdom is like the farmer who marvels at the growth. I could ask how my marriage will work out, how to cope with conflict at work, how to deal with health issues, how to make this decision, or how to become less self-centered and more of a reconciler.  I don't need to know but do need to trust that what I do matters and God will do the rest.  Trust and a cooperative heart anticipate God's creative goodness. Daily receptivity to grace transforms.  I need to remember God cares, cooperate with grace, and trust in the outcome.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "One for the money":  As a response to a prophecy of a famine, Paul set off to take up a collection for the suffering people of the Holy Land. Titus was a "captain" of Paul's team, especially for the collections in Greece and Macedonia.  The Church needs trustworthy people to raise funds, and raise faith.  Titus combined fundraising with faith-raising, attracted to God rather than money but, understanding that working with money was important, stepping forward with zeal, faith, and charity.
  • Passionist:  In today's parables, Jesus teaches that God's Kingdom begins simply, then emerges in unexpected ways.  Paul says Timothy’s faith “first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice.” Just like the seed in the parables, faith took root in their hearts and spread to Timothy.  We can look for God's grand appearance, miracles, and heroic saints, but what about ordinary lives, unlikely places, a stranger's kindness, a colleague's smile, a newborn's vulnerability?  Look into your heart and see how faith has taken root. There may be thistles, rocky ground, and need for nurturing, but it's there and growing.
  • DailyScripture.net:  "What God's kingdom is like":  As a mustard seed grows to be a tree that attracts birds who love its seeds, God's kingdom starts from small beginnings in our hearts, works unseen, and transforms us from within.  When we yield to the Spirit and allow God's word to take root, we're transformed.
The "tree of the cross" spread its branches and grew into a community of faith offering the world its fruit:  "We must sow this seed in our minds and let it grow into a tree of understanding elevating our faculties; then it'll spread out branches of knowledge, the taste of its fruit will make our mouths burn, and its kernel will inflame us.  A mustard seed is an image of God's kingdom:  Christ is the kingdom of heaven.  Sown like a seed in Mary's womb, he grew up into the tree of the cross whose branches stretch across the world.  Crushed in the mortar of the passion, its fruit has flavored and preserved every living creature it comes in contact with.  As long as a mustard seed remains intact, its properties lie dormant; but when it's crushed they're evident.  So it was with Christ, who chose to have his body crushed to reveal its power….  He became all things to restore us in himself.  He received the mustard seed that represents God's kingdom; as a man he received it, though as God he'd always possessed it.  He sowed it in his garden, his bride the Church, a garden extending over the world, tilled by the plow of the gospel, fenced in by doctrine and discipline, cleared of weeds by apostles' labor....  When he promised the patriarchs a kingdom, the seed took root in them; with the prophets it sprang up; with the apostles it grew; in the Church it became a great tree of gift-laden branches.  Take the wings of the psalmist’s dove, gleaming in the sunlight, and fly to rest among those branches, where no snare will trap you; fly with confidence and dwell in its shelter" (Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 98, paraphrased).
May God's word take deep root in your life and transform you....
  • Universalis:  Paul converted Timothy and Titus; they became his companions and helpers.  Paul entrusted the Ephesus Christians to Timothy and the Crete Christians to Titus.  His "pastoral epistles" have advice for Timothy, Titus, and us.
Dress legend
  • 'Joy/musical notes' pin:  "I yearn to see you... and be filled with joy" (1st reading); "sing to the Lord" (psalm)
  • 'Classroom' tie:  Jesus taught with parables then explained to his disciples (gospel)
  • 'Plant' pin:  Kingdom:  Seed sprouts, grows,... (gospel)
  • 'Apple' pin:   ...yields fruit (gospel)
  • 'Fire' pin:  Fan into flame the gift of God you have... (1st reading)
  • 'Hands' tie:  ...through imposition of hands (1st reading)
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  "Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus" (both 1st readings)
  • 'Bear' tie bar:  'Bear' your share of hardship for the gospel (1st reading)
  • 'Olympics' tie pin:  Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations (psalm)
  • 'Crown' tie bar:  Tell the nations the Lord is king (psalm); Kingdom of God parables (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  I yearn to see you again (1st reading)
  • 'Love' suspenders:  God gave us a spirit of power, love, and self-control (1st reading)
  • White shirt:  Liturgical color of today's memorial