2 Tm 1:1-8; Ps 96:1-10; Mk 3:20-21: Two of the coworkers with the Apostle Paul are the bishops we celebrate today, Saint Timothy and Saint Titus. They continued an apostolic witness into the next generation of believers. Along with the Psalmist, they encouraged everyone to proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations. They wanted every new nation to sing a new song; sing to the glory of his Name. Indeed his salvation is new day after day. Among all the nations his glory abounds; among all the people his wondrous deeds. For the LORD is king and there is no other, there is no just and holy LORD like the Lord our God. He has made the world firm, not to be moved. The LORD does govern all the nations with his equity. Saint Timothy and Saint Titus are commanded to bear a share of the hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God. Saint Paul knows full well that he cannot bear these hardships alone; he relies on fellow workers—Saint Timothy and Saint Titus—and the rest of us who belong to God in the Body of Christ. Indeed, it is just such a witness that may cause others to conclude that we are not in our right mind. Such a danger is a necessary side effect of following the LORD. For this, we may not yet be ready. True and apostolic witness may yet be ahead of us.
This kind of encouragement from Father in faith to Son in faith, from Founding Apostle to Succeeding Bishop, from Saint Paul to Saints Timothy and Titus, is still necessary. We who continue to witness to the apostolic faith need the encouragement of the Apostles. Indeed like our forbearers, Timothy and Titus, we need to remember, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” Such is the gift that Saint Paul passed on to the next generation of leaders. Such is the gift of the Flame of God, the Holy Spirit. Such is the gift bestowed during the imposition of hands in Confirmation and Ordination. Indeed, we too, have not received a spirit of cowardice, but a spirit of power and love and self-control. We are not ashamed of our testimony to the Lord our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are not ashamed of anyone who is a prisoner for the sake of the gospel of Christ. Indeed, we too, bear a share of hardship for the Gospel with a strength that can come only from the LORD. Also, we have a portion of the apostolic joy whenever we remember those who have come to know the Lord Jesus through our own faith-filled witness.
The relatives of the Lord Jesus wanted to protect him from the dangers of the crowds, from the dangers of too much popularity. To have such notoriety is to be on “the radar screen” of the local authorities who may not appreciate your public recognition outshining their popularity. When his disciples followed him into a building, there was no room even to serve a meal. Houses were not very large and evidently the crowds were quite large. Those who loved the Lord Jesus tried to seize him out of the public forum to protect him from the label, “mad” or “fanatic”. Anyone who follows the Lord Jesus in doing the Father’s will and living under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit will be opposed and judged by the secular society in which we live. Saint Timothy and Saint Titus had to struggle with these tensions and temptations. We could gain wisdom from their example and help from their intercession. Such public pressure to conform is much more dangerous to the hearts of those who are in the world but not of the world. The danger is to give in or act the part of a fringe person so that at least you can find comfort in a label. To live in this world like Jesus lived in his world is to confuse and startle those around us, even our closest relatives are afraid for us. This kind of risk is necessary for anyone who follows the Lord Jesus.