Paul was just finishing a conversation with a merchant in the center of town when he caught sight of Titus approaching. “As I live and breathe,” Paul exclaimed, “if it isn’t my faithful emissary Titus! Praise God!”
“Blessings Master!” Titus responded as the two men embraced. “You are a welcome sight.”
Paul paused as an expression of concern crossed his face. “Don’t tell me that they kicked you out of Corinth,” he said.
“No, no, no. Everything is fine in Corinth,” Titus assured him.
“You shared my letter with them?”
“Indeed, I did,” Titus responded. “They were very touched by it. Of course, some were still upset about your first letter. But we talked and prayed and talked some more and eventually they came to understand that the Gospel often calls for stern and challenging words.”
“That’s terrific! Titus, you have a wonderful way of working with people. I am very grateful. So, what are you doing in Macedonia?”
“I was hoping that I might find you here.”
“And so you have! This is marvelous. We have much to talk about. And I am working on another letter that I would like you to deliver.”
“Somehow, I knew that you were going to say that!”
St. Paul was bold, eloquent and outspoken. He was well-traveled and well-known. People took notice when Paul came to town. Titus, Paul’s trusted friend and companion, lived much of his life in Paul’s very large shadow. Titus accompanied Paul to a significant council in Jerusalem at which Paul undoubtedly did most of the talking. Titus made follow-up visits to Ephesus, Corinth and Dalmatia after Paul had already been there.
Titus graciously accepted his role as second banana and was able to make some very important, if quiet, contributions. Titus’s most valuable work was with Christian communities scattered around the Mediterranean. After Paul had gotten the communities stirred up with his challenging exhortations, Titus would appear to calm things down, remind people that Paul had the best of intentions, and encourage them to remain faithful to their call. Some people in Corinth were so upset with Paul that they might have left the Church entirely if it were not for the patient care of Titus.
Titus provides a wonderful reminder to those of us who find ourselves in the role of second banana. Even when we are not in charge, our contributions can be very valuable. We attend to the tasks that need to be done but for which the leader of the operation does not have time. We support and encourage those who are in charge and offer wise counsel. We complement the strengths of the leader with strengths of our own. Those who are in charge recognize and appreciate those contributions. Head coaches rely on their assistants, captains delegate key responsibilities to their lieutenants and brides certainly need their bridesmaids.
Sometimes those who have provided able assistance for many years are later put in charge. This was the case with Titus. After years of helping Paul, he became bishop of Crete, where no doubt he was loved and appreciated by the people. But even if that does not happen, a life lived assisting others is wonderful contribution to God’s Kingdom, whether it is in the limelight or not.
For the Mass readings for November 7, click here. The image is a composite of two different illustration. To learn more about the painting of St. Paul, click here. To learn more about the icon of St. Titus, click here.
Author’s note: St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged us to use our imagination in contemplating Scripture passages so that we might draw greater fruit from them. In reflecting on the meeting of St. Titus and St. Paul recounted in 2 Corinthians 7, I use my imagination to fill in some of the details of the story.