Tradition – Handing on the Faith
For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.
As a teacher, there is a certain joy that comes when a former student becomes successful. There is a double pride when a former student becomes successful doing what the teacher did. On some level, Saint Paul had to feel happy that his students, Saint Timothy and Saint Titus followed so faithfully in his footsteps.
Saint Paul, Saint Timothy and Saint Titus all remind us of the importance of thinking about how it is that each one of us is called to hand on or to pass on, the faith. This is the meaning of the word tradition. As has been noted, “God has no grandchildren.” It is up to us to secure the next generation of the faith. And as Saint Paul so eloquently puts it in his Letter to the Romans, if there are not people who are sent to preach the good news, it becomes much more difficult to help others to become believers.
In western culture, particularly in Europe and North America, this is the topic of the day. How is it that Catholics will be inspired to share their faith with others in a way that is compelling? How is it we will be open to sharing with others the ways in which Jesus has changed our lives?
Put even more specifically, how will you, how will I, make the compelling case that it matters whether or not we believe in Jesus? For I think for so many, the challenge is to understand why faith matters. That is because I think for too many it does not. And of those for whom it does not, life seems to be okay.
I hear from students that they do not see this need in their own lives. And yet, at the same time there is the reality that mental illness is on the rise. There is the deeper divisions and polarizations that have the effect of paralyzing us and rendering us ineffective in solving even the smallest of problems.
So how is it in your life that the work of Saint Paul, Saint Timothy and Saint Titus can be your work? In what way is it that you are being called to share with others the reasons faith is important to you? Are you willing to develop the type of relationship with Jesus that will inspire others to seek the same? How is it you will “stir into flame” the gift God has given you?
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