Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22 - Timothy, Martyr, Shepherd, Companion of Paul
Timothy had heard about the one they were talking about--Jesus. Perhaps he had even met him but apparently he had not been persuaded to become a follower of his if he had indeed run across him in his travels. Of course, Timothy was only a late teenager when Jesus had been put to death and it was Paul who had really brought the Gospel to him later in Lystra. In fact, it was nearly two decades after Jesus' death that Timothy finally found him in the words of the traveling missionary who seemed to be calling Timothy to a higher calling than a typical life in Lystra. It had all happened when Paul and Barnabas had showed up one day to preach their message in Timothy's town and region. With much prayer and passion, they brought about a miraculous healing of a crippled child and the people were shocked. In the face of compassionate power that the Empire could not match--for it could cripple but never heal--many of the witnesses were converted to the faith of Paul and Barnabas. Timothy, his mother Eunice, and his grandmother Loida were all part of these initial converts in Lystra. Timothy became the companion of Paul and went with them on their missionary journeys.

It was at the feet of Paul that Timothy received his education in the faith that now gripped his heart and soul. As they traveled, Paul taught and Timothy learned. In this way, Timothy was immersed not only in the waters of baptism but in the ebb and flow of Christian teaching. Thus, it was no surprise when this loved one of Paul became a leader in the Church at Ephesus. Paul appointed Timothy to be a shepherd of a flock in need of guidance and leadership. Though Timothy did not look forward to leaving his cherished place of guidance by Paul's side, he knew that God had called him and prepared him for an important ministry within the Church. Paul went on with his journeys and Timothy became a leader in the Church. Indeed, Timothy received letters from his mentor advising him how to live into his calling but most of Timothy's decisions were made by focusing on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.One day, though, Timothy received a letter inviting him to a prison where Paul had been incarcerated for preaching the message he shared with Timothy. Timothy traveled and said his farewells to his mentor and Paul reminded Timothy to have confidence in his calling even if it felt overwhelming at times. Paul died and Timothy returned to his flock with the knowledge that the message that he and Paul carried could very well cost him his life. Eventually, it did.

There was a festival going on in Ephesus that involved parading idols before the people so that they might worship and appeal to the gods they were supposed to represent. Timothy could see the faces of the people who put their hopes in dead stone. They sought healing and help and they received nothing but disappointment.Recalling the day he had seen God heal a crippled boy, his heart burned at the thought of misplaced faith and so he took to the street and stood in front of the parade to preach words of true hope and effective faith. They screamed for him to stop and he continued anyway because he had been trained and taught by Paul that the Gospel was worth suffering for. So, he was beaten savagely and dragged by his clothes and arms through the street before those who had such desperate hope stoned him to death and made him a martyr.

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