This week brings not only the feast of the Conversion of St Paul (January 25), but also the commemoration of Paul’s saintly associates. In the older, traditional calendar, Timothy’s feast falls the day before the Conversion of Paul. Timothy was a collaborator of Paul in Ephesus. He received two Pauline letters in the New Testament. In the newer calendar, Timothy shares the day after the Conversion with Titus, who also received a letter. These letters, 1 and 2 Timothy, with Titus, are together called the Pastoral Epistles. Pointy-headed scholars have gummed the authorship of the Pauline letters for decades. The letters are unquestionably part of the canon of Scripture and, hence, inspired by God. I’m a simple guy.
Speaking of being simple, one of my favourite New Testament passages is in the Second Letter to Timothy, who evangelised in Ephesus until his martyrdom. Paul wrote:
If it isn’t too much trouble, you might mention that some people feel that, not to be all apocalyptic or anything, Christ will return and maybe even “judge” us. If you choose to say this to people, try not to sound judgmental. Sure, Jesus could be our “judge”. You could make the “scare quote” gesture. On the other hand, he or she – avoid excluding anyone – is our friend more than our “judge”. If you must say something in public, apply modern scholarship to Scripture, especially the historical-critical method. Acquiesce to your committees. Bargain, mollify, delay with tenacity. Avoid bad press. People these days are mature and well educated. They can decide for themselves. Go easy on yourself.
Oops! I got my sources mixed up and copied the modernised version. Here’s the traditional version (2 Tim 4:1-5):
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection