THE HUMAN TOUCH OF CHRISTIAN FAITH AND EVANGELIZATION
(as seen in the opening words of the 2nd letter of St Paul to his dearest disciple
and friend, Timothy. St Paul wrote this letter from his prison in Rome)
|(1)|| "Timothy, I thank God for you. Night
and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." (2 Timothy, 1: 3)
St Paul had met Timothy in the city of Lystra, during his second missionary journey.
It was love at first sight. Between the two rose a deep friendship, a strong love for Jesus and Evangelization. Timothy remained one of the closest friends of St Paul.
Their faith in Jesus purified and deepened their human feelings.
Am I able to share my faith with my best friends?
|(2)|| "Timothy, I long to see you again,
for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when
we are together again." (2 Timothy, 1: 4)
True friends long to stay together. Their looking forward to seeing each other is already "living together", and the memory of the time spent together is a prolongation of living together. St Paul in his words to Timothy reveals all the human aspect of his faith.
Friendship is a great gift. Do I know how to appreciate and be grateful to my friends?
|(3)|| "Timothy, I know that you sincerely
trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your
grandmother, Lois." (2 Timothy, 1: 5)
Very often, friends experience the love of their friends' parents and relatives as well. They become in a sense members of a new family. St Paul remembers well the strong faith of Timothy's mother and grandmother. (Timothy's father was Greek.)
Do I respect and love my friends' parents and relatives?
|(4)||"Timothy, this is why I remind you
to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands
on you." (2 Timothy 1: 6)
Through the imposition of hands (either by an apostle alone or by the elders of a particular Church), a special and permanent gift of the Holy Spirit is given to a person, who becomes a minister of the Church.
The imposition of hands on Timothy is not a mere external religious rite. Paul's love for Timothy, and his continuos care and concern for Timothy's growth into full maturity, both as a human being and a disciple of Jesus, strengthen their mutual bond and support.
Do I ever pray for the spiritual growth of my friends?
|(5)||"Timothy, God has not given us a spirit
of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2
Timothy 1: 7)
Friends, who share a common goal, are true friends indeed. They walk together towards that goal. They share the same Spirit and the same mission.
Do I cherish the bond of a common call and mission with my believing friends?
|(6)|| "Timothy, you must never be ashamed
to tell others about our Lord. And don't be ashamed of me, either, even
though I'm in prison for Christ. With the strength God gives you, be ready
to suffer with me for the proclamation of the Good News."
(2 Timothy 1: 8)
St Paul is much older than Timothy, has a deeper life experience and a stronger Evangelization fire. But all these differences are not obstacles to a genuine friendship between the two. St Paul gives advice, urges Timothy to remain faithful to his call in all circumstances. Timothy accepts.
Do I find "age", "role", "gender", "race", obstacles to a genuine friendship.
|(7)||"Timothy, God chose me to be a preacher,
an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News." (2 Timothy 1: 11)
Can parents-children, students-teachers, be friends? Jesus calls his apostles his friends.(John,15:15)
|(8)|| "Timothy, that is why I am suffering
here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I
trust." (2 Timothy 1: 12)
St Paul is willing to accept all the suffering that goes with Evangelization. He is proud to be able to proclaim Jesus' Gospel in Rome, although he is in prison like a criminal.
A friend's strong commitment to his/her mission is a source of energy and emulation.
|(9)|| "Timothy, hold on to the pattern
of right teaching you learned from me. And remember to live in the faith
and love that you have in Christ Jesus."(2 Timothy 1: 13)
St Paul is not trying to possess or control Timothy, to make him his obedient servant. St Paul respects Timothy's personal relationship with Jesus. When Paul mentions "the teaching you learned from me", he is referring to Jesus' teaching, which Paul himself believes and announces.
|(10)|| "Timothy, with the help of the Holy
Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard what has been entrusted to you."
(2 Timothy 1: 14)
Faith is a bond between friends. Their common experience of the Spirit who lives in them, makes that faith a living experience.
|(11)||"Timothy, as you know, all the brothers
who came here from the province of Asia have deserted me; even Phygelus
and Hermogenes are gone. May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus
and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never
ashamed of me because I was in prison. When he came to Rome, he searched
everywhere until he found me." (2 Timothy 1: 15-17)
St Paul must have gone through moments of solitude and loneliness during his two (or more) years of imprisonment in Rome. Some friends abandoned him during his trials.
The affection and care shown by a friend in difficult times, will be cherished for a long time!
|(12)||"Timothy, because I preach this Good
News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word
of God cannot be chained." (2 Timothy 2: 9)
A friend is a person who listens and understands. Timothy must have read Paul's letter many times. He must have noticed that Paul often repeats himself in expressing his feelings and hopes. But he is Paul's friend. He will not just read the words of the letter; he will listen to his friend's voice, feel his anguish and, as a result, strengthen his own commitment to Evangelization.
Timothy must have understood very well his teacher's message: they can chain me, but can not chain the Word I announce.