TITUS, THE GENTILE CONVERT (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

St. Paul in his letter to Titus calls him my true son in the faith(Tit 1, 4). In his letter to Galatians Paul referring to Titus says, My companion Titus, even though he is Greek, was not forced to be circumcised(Tit 2, 3). Paul refers to Titus many times in his letters including about 9 times in his 2nd letter to Corinthians. These references indicate that Titus was most probably converted by Paul and instructed by him in faith to be a fellow worker and a trusted companion in the ministry of preaching.

Paul and Titus seem to have enjoyed more that a father and son relationship as affectionate friends and trusted companion to each other.

In the letter to Galatians Paul introduces Titus as part of a delegation from Antioch to Jerusalem. Paul specially took! Titus to tell the leaders at Jerusalem that Jesus message is equally valid for the uncircumcised gentile Christians as it is for the circumcised Jewish Christians. So he writes: Fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went because God revealed to me that I should go. In a private meeting with the leaders I explained the Gospel message that I preach to the Gentiles. I did not want my work in the past or in the present to be a failure. My companion Titus, even though he is Greek, was not forced to be circumcised, although some wanted it done(Gal. 2, 1-4).

Titus was often the delegate of Paul for the Christians in Corinth, in Dalmatia (Modern Yugoslavia) and in Crete. When Pauls first letter to Corinthians and the mission of Timothy as well as his own visit failed to achieve the desired result, Paul choose Titus to go to Corinth with a strong letter from him. Then, Paul anxiously wanted for the result. He was delighted with the good news brought by Titus that the Corinthian reformed their evil ways. Paul writes, But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us with the coming of Titus. It was not only his coming that cheered us, but also his report to how you encouraged him. He told us how much you want to see me, how sorry you are, how ready you are to defend me; and so I am even happier now(2 Cor. 7, 6-7).

In the same letter to Corinthians Paul refers to Titus as My partnerand fellow worker and says, How we thanks God for making Titus as eager as we are to help you! Not only did he welcome our request; he was so eager to help that of his own free will he decided to go to you. With him we are sending the brother who is highly respected in all the churches for his work in preaching the Gospel. And besides that, he has been chosen and appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this service of love for the sake of the Lords glory, and in order to show that we want to help(2 Cor. 8 16-19). Here Paul certifys, so to say, that Titus is highly respected in all Churches for his work in preaching the Gospel.

The pastoral letter of Paul to Titus indicates that after Paul! Release from his first Roman imprisonment he and Titus worked for a short time in Crete and then Titus is left in-charge of the Christians in the Church on the island of Crete where Titus had earlier accompanied Paul after his release from prison. Crete is the fourth largest island of the Mediterranean, South of the Aegean Sea.

Pauls instructions are clear in the letter to Titus. First, he is to put things in order; second, he is enjoined to ordain elders in every city; third, he should not waste time in useless discussions; and fourth, he should see that the people respect authority and engage themselves in doing good in every way.

According to the historian Eusebius, Titus because the first bishop of Crete. Tradition says that Titus lived and died at Crete at the age of 93. Latin Church observes Titus feast on February 6 every year.

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ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)


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