Memorial of Ss. TIMOTHY (and Titus)
patron of those afflicted with stomach ailments
Today is the greatest feast day of the greatest saint in the history of Christianity! It is the feast of St. Timothy! Yeah, there’s some other guy named Titus celebrated with him. Unfortunate, I know. But who cares?! It’s my feast day!!! See, in our house (as was always a tradition in the Catholic world) we celebrate the feast of the saint who’s name one was given. Yes, I know, it’s not St. Harvey’s feast day. OK, deal. It’s a pseudonym. Anyway, there is a St. Harvey (Harve) but he’s later on.
Timothy was born in Lystra. He, his mother Eunice, and his grandmother Lois had all been moved by the preaching of the Apostle Paul when he swung through town on his first missionary journey. Can you imagine having heard Paul preach? By the second time Paul passed through, he sought companions for the remainder of his journey. Timothy (the name means “honoring God” in Greek) was recommended by the Christian community there. He graciously accepted because he was a strong, wise, pious, and virile specimen of manliness. Did I mention he had incredible hair? Ultimately, Paul came to rely on his trusted companion. I’ve always gotten the impression that Paul really felt of Timothy that he was somewhat of a son to him in a spiritual sense.
Ultimately, Paul placed Timothy in charge of the Christian community of Ephesus (present Turkey). Noted Scripture scholar Bishop Arthur Serratelli (a man I came to know when he served as rector of the seminary wherein I was studying many years ago) remarked to me that in those days, Ephesus was a very cosmopolitan city, much like New York or London today. Timothy became its first bishop (and some would argue, the first “bishop” after the Apostles themselves). There was just one problem. For all his incredible skill and great gifts (many women found him irresistible) Timothy had a bit of stage fright. It seems he had received the Word from Paul and wanted badly to proclaim it but found speaking so nerve-wracking that it literally made him sick to his stomach.
Scripture, as the inspired Word of God and yet the words of the human authors is a fascinating thing. People tend to think only in terms of the “thee’s” and “thou’s”, the “thou shalt not’s”, the Beatitudes, and Revelation. Few ever stop to consider that the men who wrote the Good Book didn’t consider that they were writing anything special per se. For instance, Paul wrote many letters to many people and many communities. In Her wisdom, the Church, a few centuries later, deemed that two of the letters he wrote to Timothy were inspired. But don’t forget, they were also letters from one man to his friend and companion on the journey. From them we get these gems…
Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
Good advice then as now and Paul was ahead of his time according to my cardiologist. I don’t actually have a cardiologist but I couldn’t figure a better way to word that. Point is, Paul wanted to draw out of Timothy that inner strength, the gift of preaching he knew his friend was capable of. Sometimes, the people in our lives serve as Christ for us when they inspire us to do God’s will and help us in that task. Encourage your friends in the faith.
But the most humanizing aspect of these two letters comes at the end of the second epistle. I am convinced these letters are included in Scripture to show us the every day, human side of our Church Fathers.
When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments.
Hey, great saints forget their coats at their friends places, too.
Timothy went on to govern the Church at Ephesus long after Paul’s execution (which took place at Rome around AD 64). By all accounts, his chiseled features remained with him all those years. Titus, also, was a disciple of Paul.
*Passages quoted from 1 Tim. 5:23 & 2 Tim. 4:13