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?