Aloha Friday Message – March 2, 2012 – Titus, The Evangelist – Second Friday of Lent

1209AFC030212 – Titus The Evangelist – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

Aloha nui loa, Beloved. Today I am thinking about the letter to Titus. It’s really short, and if you wanted to read it, I think it would take less than 10 minutes. Here’s a highlight from the second chapter.

KJV Titus 2:7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

NAB Titus 2:7 showing yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us.

NJB Titus 2:7 and you yourself set an example of good works, by sincerity and earnestness, when you are teaching, and by a message sound and irreproachable 8 so that any opponent will be at a loss, with no accusation to make against us.

Titus accompanied Paul to the Council in Jerusalem, to Troas (about 30 miles from the Dardanelles (Hellespont), the treacherous entry to the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea beyond, was actually named Alexandria and often referred to as Alexandria Troas to distinguish it from the many other cities named Alexandria), Dalmatia, Crete (where he later returned to continue establishing the church there, and eventually wintered with Paul in the Nicopolis the “city of victory” – which was the capital of Epirus in northwestern Greece. It commemorated Julius Caesar’s victory over Mark Antony at the battle of Actium on September 2, 31 BC). According to the second letter to the Corinthians, Titus accompanied Paul on his Second Missionary Journey.

This letter is one of the “pastoral letters” which contain advice from Paul to his protégés about how to carry out their ministries and accomplish the tasks assigned to them. This letter describes to Titus how he is to choose his assistants from among the Minoans (the correct name for the inhabitants of Crete at that time rather than “Cretians”). Paul knew this would be a very difficult task. The inhabitants of Crete had a “world-wide” reputation for their rough-and-tumble morality, their obstinacy, and appetite for too many things that were not good for them. Paul even stated flatly that “One of them, a prophet of their own, once said, “Cretans have always been liars, vicious beasts, and lazy gluttons.” That testimony is true.” Titus had a tough row to hoe! Paul’s advice to him concerned the characteristics of persons Titus would need to locate and cultivate to get the church going on Crete. Minoans were always tough customers. There’s some good evidence to show there were the ancestors of the Philistines, the age-old arch-nemesis of the Israelites. In short, establishing a church on the Island of Crete with sound Christian doctrine and persons capable of holy living would be a formidable challenge – sort of on the order of converting the foxes to live peaceably in the chicken coop.

As you read though this short Epistle, you begin to notice that some of the things Paul recommends for characteristics of church leaders are in fact good guidelines for any leaders – in our families, in our communities, in our governments, or anywhere in the world. Let’s list a few of those.

Paul tells Titus that the motivation for becoming the kind of person that can legitimately be a believer and a member of the church leadership is the redemptive power of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection coupled with the promise of his imminent return. Most of the early Fathers of the Church – the Apostles and their immediate converts – believed Christ would return in Glory in their lifetime. And ever since those days, great leaders in the church have professed the same belief: Christ’s return is just a short time from now. These two central beliefs shaped much of the Christology in the Early Church. The persons who come to these beliefs through baptism and the justification (forgiveness of sins) in Christ Jesus will have the strength to overcome the social pressures to be like the Minoans historic characteristics.

The believers Titus was told to cultivate would be people who had absolute confidence in the HOPE of everlasting life in Christ. Their incomparable joy would come through the hearing of the Word – evangelism – and for some to hear, others must preach. Those who were to preach in Crete had to be blameless. Now, “blameless” is not “perfect.” It means, innocent, virtuous, righteous, beyond doubt or accusation of wickedness. These would be people married only once, with children who were also believers and obedient to their parents (not trouble-makers like other youth). The men appointed to positions as Titus’s helpers had to be sober, but not somber, assertive but not aggressive, and fiscally responsible but not greedy. They were to be hospitable and lovers of hospitality, men of restraint, with well-known self-control. Most of all they were to be men of strong faith and well educated in their faith so they could debate and defeat those who came against the Church and win without being contemptuous. There were a lot of contemptuous, contentious, and contradictory ruffians who wouldn’t be easily silenced, much less easily converted.

The reason for choosing persons with these qualities was easily seen. Paul says (See Titus 1:15-16), “To the clean all things are clean, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is clean; in fact, both their minds and their consciences are tainted. They claim to know God, but by their deeds they deny him. They are vile and disobedient and unqualified for any good deed.”

Paul tells Titus that he must not be like those men; he must be consistent, reverent, knowledgeable, and must show that enduring love that characterizes Christ and his followers. Paul tells Titus that older men and women should show the wisdom of their years and avoid slander, gossip, and drunkenness. In these things they will set the example for the younger parents – men and women – who must bring up their children in this very adverse and abrasive environment. Workers – Paul uses the term slaves – should strive to be obedient and loyal as Christ commands.

These characteristics lead one to the Transformed Life, a life that aims to be freed from the contemptuous behaviors that are historically attributed to the Minoans. The people “await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior, Jesus Christ” (See Titus 2:13) Titus is to take a stand on these central principles and not feel put down or looked down upon by any in the community.

Paul reminds Titus that all persons should submit to proper authority because that authority comes from God. Even if the authority is used to demean others or to promote injustice, still the authority comes from God and God has a way and a plan for the exercise of that authority.  Paul points out that in the past he and Titus – and all believers who have been evangelized and converted – were once sinners who “were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another.” (See Titus 3:3)

Paul begins the closing of the letter by telling Titus to ensure that the Church in Crete is dedicated to good works which benefit the Church and those for whom the good works are done. These works should be performed without regard to reward or recompense; they are good things done for the sake of being good; doing this right because they are right. For those who continue to practice heresy, sacrilege, and blasphemy, they are to get two warnings, and then to be excluded from the circle of believers. Paul declares that such people perverted, sinful, and have condemned themselves by their actions and words. (See Titus 3:10-11)

Paul adds some closing remarks, and that is the end of the Epistle. We don’t often get to read this letter or to study it in depth. I have given a surface-peel of the content, but there is much to be learned, especially about leadership, in this important Epistle. If you are in a role of leadership, particularly if you are in a clerical-leadership role, a close study of this Epistle with cross-references to the book of Acts and to the Gospels would be instructive.

To me the key point in this letter is that we must evangelize in thought, word, and deed “a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized.” We must live in the JOY of the Word. Everyone must be able to see our willingness to belong totally to Jesus, to relinquish our pride and our prejudices – there is no room for them in the Spirit of Love, or as we say in Hawaii, in the spirit of Aloha. Sometimes it seems to me that the people going to receive communion are so sad or so angry or so absent from the sacrament that I wonder what happened to the JOY of being in the True Presence of Christ. Other times people are so loud and so irreverent in church that I wonder if they know the True Presence is just a few feet away, quietly waiting to be acknowledged and loved by them. Beloved, let us lay aside the traits of the Minoans and instead – from the depths of our souls to the ends of the Earth – praise God with Great JOY. Let us be hospitable and lovers of hospitality, but let us also purify that hospitality with JOY and with the “fear of the Lord,” the reverence due to so great a God and Savior.

 

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chick 😆

😀                         😉

 

Updated Sunday, June 10, 2018

with new Scripture links

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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