”To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” ~ Mark Twain
On the heels of the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, the tireless Apostle to the Gentiles, today we commemorate his collaborators in discipleship, Saints Timothy and Titus. A native of Lystra, Timothy went on to become the first Christian Bishop of Ephesus while Titus, believed to have been a convert to Christianity, assumed the same title on the Island of Crete.
Although pure speculation on my part, it would appear as though Paul’s bond with Timothy was deeper and more profound than was his relationship with Titus. He wrote to Timothy more often, or at least the recorded evidence points to this conclusion, and in today’s 1st Reading, taken from Paul’s second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:1-8), we get a sense of the intimacy of their relationship. Paul refers to his young protege as his dear child, going on to say “I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day.” He goes on to speak of how and he so yearned to see Timothy again, this despite the fact that Paul undoubtedly knew all too well that this encounter would never materialize. He was imprisoned when he penned this second letter, “suffering to the point of chains, like a criminal for the word of God” as he so aptly put it https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Unchained-Word-of-God. He would prove to be prophetic; there would be no joyful reunion.
Paul urged Timothy to be unashamed and heroic in his testimony to the Lord, to “bear his share of hardship for the Gospel” with the the strength that comes from the Lord, the latter comment a nod to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, a topic we’ve discussed quite often https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Contemplating-the-Mystery-of-Christs-Generosity. Last week we reflected upon the life of Saint Agnes and the fortitude and hope that she displayed during her brief but remarkable life https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Saint-Agnes-and-the-Queenly-Virtue-of-Fearless-Suffering. Jesus never promised us that following him would be easy; only that it would be worth it.
Jesus also understood the value of companionship, the necessity for it really, when it came to evangelical discipleship. We see it today with Saint Paul and his two companions. Jesus of course sent the 12 Apostles out on pairs as well (Mark 6:7), for he knew that he was sending them out like sheep to mingle amongst the wolves (Matthew 10:16) https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Taming-the-Wolves-In-Our-Midst. For this reason and so many others, Christianity is not meant to be experienced alone. To quote author R.A. Salvatore, “Joy multiplies when it is shared among friends, but grief diminishes with every division. That is life.” For Saint John Paul II, companionship and the fostering of communal discipleship was critical if we were to truly pursue abd achieve our goal of being more Christ-like. He said “Man becomes an image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion.” We do not even enter the Kingdom of Heaven on our own. We do so on the merits of those who shaped us. We strive and hope that we too are serving and subsequently shaping others in a similar way. As American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath once said, “Oh how we need another soul to cling to.”
Those of you who play poker know that it’s a generally understood house rule that a player must be dealt a pair or better ~ usually a pair of Jacks or better ~ to “open,” that is to say in order to place a wager, thereby engaging the other players at the table. “Fish hooks or better“ as I used to say whenever it was my turn to deal in the always memorable family poker games of my youth. What holds true for poker holds true when it comes to the Mystical Body of Christ.
Pairs or better... because pairs are better.
“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.” ~ M.F.K. Fisher