The other day I was going through a stack of cards and letters and came across some from our own, Father Jim Phalan. They go back to when he was serving as a Deacon and then Priest in the mountains of Peru. Now, for anyone under the age of 30, it might be hard to believe, but there was a time that we didn't have email or texts, and long-distance calls were pretty expensive – so we wrote letters to keep in touch.
In today's Letter of St. Paul to Timothy, we hear a personal and heartfelt message. In it, St. Paul calls Timothy "my dear child," a term of spiritual relationship also echoed in today's gospel by Jesus. St. Paul offers the grace, mercy, and peace of God to Timothy.
(It reminded me of how Fr. Jim would close his letters with the words, peace, brother.)
St. Paul then goes on to say that Timothy's sincere faith fills him with joy. He reminds Timothy that he has seen the same faith in Timothy's grandmother and mother.
What a great reminder for us to think of family members who have taught the faith to us through example and word. It also can cause us to reflect on how we're called to pass the faith to the next generation.
St. Paul then challenges Timothy to stir into flame the gift of God, given through the imposition of my hands—so that you may bear your share of hardship.
St. Paul knows that through God's grace, Timothy's family, and St. Paul, as support in faith, that Timothy has the ability to be courageous, loving, and disciplined in his life and; as well as a source of encouragement.
In today's gospel from Mark, Jesus offers us an additional source of hope when he expands our biological and adoptive families to the one family of faith. Jesus is not excluding but instead including all who do the will of His Father.
I thought about how sometimes we need spiritual brothers and sisters, mothers, and fathers to help our (biological or adopted) family members and us along the way. Sometimes, it takes a person of faith, a spiritual relative who can help us see the way — and at times, it's our turn to be that person.
Through the years, I know Father Jim and others have guided and supported my family and me at significant moments.
The Saints, like Timothy and Titus, though we haven't met in person, can also serve as our spiritual family members. We can learn from their lives and words and also receive encouragement and consolation.
My brothers and sisters, what great news to know and share that we are members of Jesus' family by simply and steadfastly doing the will of God.
May God bless you and your families this holy day and if you can, perhaps even by a letter or text, let them know this good news of Jesus and Saint Paul, Saint Timothy, and Saint Titus – all our brothers in faith!
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About Father David Marcham
Reverend David S. Marcham is the Vice Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton, and Director of the Father Peyton Guild, whose members pray for Father Peyton’s beatification and spread his message of the importance of Family Prayer. Prior to becoming a seminarian, Father David was a physical therapist and clinical instructor, serving hospital inpatients and outpatients throughout the greater Boston area for eleven years. In 1998 he heard the call to priesthood and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005. Father David grew up in Quincy, MA, and has fond memories of playing soccer, tennis and running track. You’re never without a friend when Father David is around, as he welcomes everyone into his circle with a smile on his face!