Today we celebrate the feast day of two of St. Paul’s better known followers, Saints Timothy and Titus. The New Testament contains two letters from St. Paul to Timothy and one to Titus. Today’s first reading can be chosen from either a letter to Timothy or a letter to Titus. In both, St. Paul exhorts these men to continue the mission of spreading the gospel.
One part of the letter to Timothy caught my eye:
I am grateful to God,
whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did,
as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day.
I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears,
so that I may be filled with joy,
as I recall your sincere faith
that first lived in your grandmother Lois
and in your mother Eunice
and that I am confident lives also in you.
I loved the verse where Paul talks about Timothy’s grandmother and mother. We often think of the great evangelizers like St. Paul, or St. Augustine, or St. Francis Xavier, but the first evangelists for most people is a family member, usually a mom or dad or a grandmother.
Like many of you, my mother and father brought me to the Church for baptism as an infant, and the passing on of the Faith had begun. We regularly attended Sunday Mass, and all of us were sent to CCD. Sometimes my parents taught, and other times different adults in the parish taught. At each step along the way, there was an adult who came before me who decided to give of him/herself so that I would know Christ. The foundation was laid.
The greatest influence on my spirituality, however, was my Marian, charismatic, fun-loving grandmother. She got involved in the Charismatic renewal early on in the movement, in the late 60’s. She read the bible. She talked and sang about Jesus, and shared it all with her grandchildren. If one of us was sick or had something distressing going on, she’d say, “Sit down!” which we promptly obeyed. She would lay hands on us, invoke the Holy Spirit, and pray for healing. I can still see myself sitting in a kitchen chair while she prayed over me, and an ear-to-ear smile covers my face as I type!
My grandmother was a prayer warrior, too. She attended a weekly prayer meeting – almost unheard of for Catholics in those days. She kept track of the prayer line for her prayer community. And, most importantly, she prayed the rosary. As she got older and was less and less able to go out, she increased how much she prayed each day. She called it her job! By the time she died at 91, she prayed 27 rosaries a day – not decades, mind you, but full mysteries. She loved the Lord, and she lived her faith. What an example for a kid!!!!
We are all called to be Lois and Eunice to Timothy. We have a grave responsibility to pass along what has been given to us. That responsibility is not restricted solely to our children. It is a responsibility to bring the love of God and the knowledge of Christ into the world – to our co-workers, to our students, to our neighbors, to our family. We pass it on by what we say, what we do, and how we live our lives. No doubt the example and the faith of these two women influenced people besides Timothy. How could it not?
So today, I ask you to pray in thanksgiving for those who passed along the Faith to you. Take some time to see them again in your mind. Go back and remember those people – family, friends, teachers, and any others who helped you grow in your faith – and thank God for them, asking Him to abundantly bless them and those they love. Pray, too, that you will be Lois or Eunice for the Timothys in your life, and that how you live your life will be a witness to the resurrected Christ calling others to Him.
Saints Timothy and Titus, pray for us! Anne