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August 25, 2023

Saint Titus the Apostle as a Model for our Lives

Holy Apostle Titus (Feast Day - August 25)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas
The Apostle Titus was a Greek, apparently from Antioch, who, it seems, had studied Greek philosophy and poetry in the early years of his life. He had been drawn to the true faith by the Apostle Paul, whom he accompanied to Jerusalem in 49 AD, to participate in the Apostolic Synod.

Afterwards, the Apostle Titus was charged with the responsible mission of going to Corinth to examine the situation of the Church there. Indeed, he went and gave solutions to the problems that arose, and he arranged them in the best way. After the success of this mission, he went to Macedonia, where he met the Apostle Paul, who, pleased with the successful outcome of the events, wrote his second letter to the Corinthians.

Later, the Apostle Titus returned again to Corinth with a larger escort, he also had two Corinthians with him. Then, the Apostle Paul sent him to organize the alms collections for the Christians of Jerusalem.

The Apostle Titus, as he very aptly wrote, was a tool for dealing with problems, a peacemaker, an administrator and a missionary. This is certainly how the Apostle Paul would have felt about him, mainly, however, as he himself confesses, as his "genuine child" and his "brother". Therefore, when he went to Troas to preach the Gospel and did not find him there, he left and went to Macedonia. He writes in his second epistle to the Corinthians: "When I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia."

According to ecclesiastical tradition, the Apostle Paul, after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome, and possibly after his tour in Spain, stopped in Crete to preach. There he ordained his disciple Titus as Bishop of Crete, in order to complete the work he had started. And he sent him the well-known "Epistle to Titus" from which we learn, among other things, that the Apostle Titus had brilliant associates in Crete, such as Zenas the lawyer and the famous Apollos.

His life came to an end peacefully in 105 AD.

His life and conduct give us the occasion to emphasize the following:

The Epistles of the Apostle Paul to his disciples and bishops, Timothy of Ephesus and Titus of Crete, are "monuments" of ecclesiastical discourse and a source of inspiration for the spiritual pastors and teachers of the Church, but also for all Christians. In them, it is clearly seen the way in which the Apostle Paul educates and directs, as a spiritual father, his spiritual children, but also how the faithful should live, socialize and behave in the Church, which is "the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth."

Next, we will try to enter the spiritual flower garden, which is the "Epistle to Titus" of the Apostle Paul, to enjoy the intoxicating aroma of its spiritual flowers, that is, to be inspired in our struggle for the experience of life in Christ. In other words, a few passages will be selectively presented and an attempt will be made to interpret and analyze them based on the teaching of the Church, as expressed by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite:

- "Titus, a genuine child" (1:4)

The Apostle Titus is called by the Apostle Paul his genuine child, because he is a genuine child of God, since he truly loves God and strives to live according to His will. This is very important, because, as Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite says, someone can become a member of the Church through Baptism, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through Chrismation, but if he does not live according to the will of God and is a sinner without repenting, then he is not a genuine child of God, because in his way of life he denies God and "makes the devil his father."

- "Remind them ... to blaspheme no one, to be peaceable, lenient" (3:2)

The Apostle Paul urges the Bishop of Crete, Titus, to teach Christians not to blaspheme, that is, "not to accuse and slander any person, whatever he has done, because the mouth of Christians must be clean of all accusations and slander."

The Saints, because they are strict with themselves, are therefore lenient with others, full of love and kindness. On the contrary, those who are lenient with themselves are cruel to others and constantly create problems, quarrels and conflicts in their families, in the Church and in society.

- "Let us live with temperance, justice and piety in this age." (2:12)

Temperance "does not only indicate abstinence from fornication and carnal passions, but from all passions and vices." Because "even the one who loves money is not temperate, but he is even more lecherous than a fornicating and lecherous man, since avarice is not a natural passion, as fornication is." In general, whoever is overcome by any passion, he is not temperate. And the Apostle Paul says that in this age we must live with temperance, justice and piety, because "this age of this present life has struggle and war, the age to come has rewards and crowns."

- "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men" (2:11)

Because the Apostle Paul demanded from the Christians, even from the slaves, many and great virtues, he now shows here "that he rightly and properly demands these virtues," because, as he says, "the grace of God appeared to all men, even to the slaves, and grants them the forgiveness of many sins." That's why all believers, "even slaves, must be civil and live to the glory of God, who is such a great benefactor of them." Also, this word, "the grace of God ... has appeared," reveals the first coming of the Lord, which "gave men grace and forgiveness of their sins."

The "saving grace of God", through which God is known, defeats the passions and authentic love is acquired that embraces even enemies, "abiding richly" in the "genuine children of God", i.e. to those who repent and struggle to live according to His will.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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