The sign of a good leader is her or his ability to perpetuate their activity. A good corporate leader is future-minded, and lays the groundwork for his successor to carry the company forward. A good parent raises children that can be set free one day to be successful and prudent in life, extending their integrity and love into the next generation. Paul’s ministry was no different. He knew he wouldn’t be around forever; indeed his ministry marked him for martyrdom. And so in today’s saints, Timothy and Titus, he invests in leaders who will take the fledgling churches into the next generation.
During the fifteen years Saint Timothy worked with Saint Paul, he became one of his most faithful and trusted friends. He was sent on difficult missions by Paul—often in the face of great disturbance in local churches which Paul had founded. Paul installed him as his representative at the Church of Ephesus. Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. Titus is seen as a peacemaker and capable administrator. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians affords an insight into the depth of his friendship with Titus, and the great fellowship they had in preaching the gospel. When Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of Paul’s severe letter and was successful in smoothing things out. The Letter to Titus addresses him as the administrator of the Christian community on the island of Crete, charged with organizing it, correcting abuses, and appointing presbyter-bishops.
In today’s first reading from his second letter to Saint Timothy, Saint Paul shows his mentoring. He reminds Timothy to “stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” He urges his protégés to be strong and stand fast for the faith. At the end of the reading, he also reminds them that they would indeed have to bear their share of hardship for the faith.
Just as Jesus said in today’s Gospel reading, Saints Timothy and Titus were the lamps placed on a lampstand. They continued to pass on the light of faith that Jesus had given to Saint Paul in the feast we commemorated yesterday. Through their intercession, and by their testimony in the Scriptures we read, they beckon us to shine that same light in our world. It is always our turn to “proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.”