On the day following the Conversion of St Paul, the Church remembers his two companions, ‘partners and fellow-workers in God’s service’. Timothy, we are told, had a Jewish mother and a Greek father, whilst Titus was wholly Greek. It was because of Titus that Paul stood out against compulsory circumcision but, to avoid suspicion from other Jews, Timothy was circumcised. They are honoured in the Church for their devotion and faithfulness to the gospel.
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
who sent your apostle Paul to preach the gospel,
and gave him Timothy and Titus
to be his companions in faith:
grant that our fellowship in the Holy Spirit
may bear witness to the name of Jesus,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.
Know that the Lord is God;
it is he that has made us and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and bless his name.
For the Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting,
and his faithfulness endures from generation to generation.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
After this the Lord Jesus appointed seventy other disciples and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ “
The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.
Today the Church remembers two companions of the apostle Paul, whose conversion we celebrated yesterday. Paul described Timothy as his dear and faithful child in the Lord, his brother, and his fellow worker. Titus was also closely associated with Paul, possibly for as long as twenty years. While no mention is made of Titus in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul frequently refers to him in his letter to the Corinthians, and once in his last letter to Timothy.
Timothy and Titus clearly played an important role in Paul’s mission to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to establish Christian communities far and wide. Timothy appears to have been entirely in Paul’s service from the time of Paul’s second missionary journey until the time of Paul’s death in Rome. Titus also committed himself to furthering Paul’s mission, eventually leading Church communities in Corinth, in Dalmatia, on the Adriatic and finally in Crete.
Letters to both Timothy and Titus feature among the Pauline writings of the New Testament. From these letters we can infer how valuable Timothy and Titus were in Paul’s mission of preaching the gospel far and wide. Paul gives them much guidance on the fit and proper organisation and management of Church communities. These two companions of Paul were clearly key players in the establishment of the early Church far beyond its origins in Jerusalem and the surrounding regions.
Today’s commemoration of these two faithful companions of Paul carries a strong message for us as we continue on our own pilgrimage through this life. Timothy and Titus were not ‘special’, but they were faithful in their commitment to following and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. The question for us is: ‘As we journey on in faith, would Paul describe us as his dear and faithful child in the Lord, or his brother or sister, or as his fellow worker?’ When are we going to set aside our personal comfort and truly offer ourselves to join these faithful companions in the service of Our Lord?
Prayers of Intercession
Encouraged by our fellowship with all the saints, let us make our prayers to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, your Son called men and women to leave the past behind them and to follow him as his disciples in the way of the cross. Look with mercy upon those whom he calls today, marks with the cross and makes his disciples within the Church.
Your Son told his disciples not to be afraid, and at Easter breathed on them his gift of peace. Look with mercy upon the world into which he sent them out, and give it that peace for which it longs.
Your Son formed around him a company who were no longer servants but friends, and he called all those who obeyed him his brother and sister and mother. Look with mercy upon our families and our friends and upon the communities in which we share.
Your Son sent out disciples to preach and to heal the sick. Look with mercy on all those who yearn to hear the good news of salvation, and renew among your people the gifts of healing.
Your Son promised to those who followed him that they would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and would share the banquet of the kingdom. According to your promise, look with mercy on those who have walked with Christ in this life and now have passed through death.
Almighty God, grant that your Church may faithfully hold and make known the faith that has come to us through the apostles, that with them and all your saints we may inherit the glories of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for the week
By the prayers of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to pray.
By the gifts of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to give.
By the labours of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to work.
By the love of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to love.
By the cross of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to live.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
For all the saints who showed your love
in how they lived and where they moved,
for mindful women, caring men,
accept our gratitude again.
Bless all whose will or name or love
reflects the grace of heaven above.
Though unacclaimed by earthly powers,
your life through theirs has hallowed ours.
John L. Bell (b. 1949) and Graham Maule (b. 1958)