Scripture: Lectionary 290. 5/12/12. Acts 16:1-10. Psalm 100:1-2.3.5. John 15:18-21
Paul always follows the guiding of the Holy Spirit in his travels and proclamation of the Gospel. He truly lives out the title Apostle to the Gentiles and a Light to the Nations (Gentiles). He befriends Timothy whose mother is a convert from Judaism. The father of Timothy is a Gentile. Paul has Timothy circumcised even though we have just heard this is not a requirement after the council that was held in Jerusalem with the other apostles and disciples. Perhaps, this was a prudent decision on his part that helped him in his ministry. Moreover we realize that the role of the mother is so important in modern Israel and it from the mother that citizenship is recognized. Since Paul had the custom of visiting the synagogues wherever he preached this too may have been a reason for his having Timothy circumcised.
This would have pleased the converted Pharisees very much. They had reached an agreement in Jerusalem about the significance of circumcision that dealt with the Gentiles. Paul may have been compromising. We may wonder why the mother and father of Timothy had not had their son circumcised.
I believe Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit in this decision. We learn how he is prevented by the same Holy Spirit for bringing the Gospel to the people of the Province of Asia, specifically, to Bithynia. Timothy will follow Paul on his next missionary journeys and is mentioned in four of the authentic epistles of Paul. There are also the two epistles addressed to Timothy. Whether they are authentic from Paul is a question the exegetes and scholars work with. They are for us inspired writings that help us to understand the structures and values that Paul promoted. Timothy learned how to be a true follower of Jesus and Paul in his own missionary and apostolic works.
The Psalm and its response offers us perfect praise of God. We pray it while thanking God for the gift of Paul and his efforts in what we call his “three missionary journeys. We also thank God for the great friendship that Paul has with Timothy who becomes his companion. Timothy eventually becomes an episcopus or overseer as the first bishop of Ephesus.
In the selection from John we realize that like Paul all followers of Jesus will have to suffer through cultural and ethical issues that the secular powers will oppose. The value of the commandment of love that Jesus has given to his followers is always a challenge for each one of us. To be aware of the self-giving love that the commandment of Jesus places upon us is able to be accomplished by following the guidance of the Holy Spirit just as Paul and Timothy did.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby