You must say what is consistent with sound doctrine,
namely, that older men should be temperate, dignified,
self-controlled, sound in faith, love, and endurance.
Similarly, older women should be reverent in their behavior,
not slanderers, not addicted to drink,
teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women
to love their husbands and children,
to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers,
under the control of their husbands,
so that the word of God may not be discredited.
Urge the younger men, similarly, to control themselves,
showing yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect,
with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech
that cannot be criticized,
so that the opponent will be put to shame
without anything bad to say about us.
For the grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of the great God
and of our savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.
Jesus said to the Apostles:
“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded, say,
‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.’”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, OP.
I. THEME: People have a duty to serve God.
When one comes to the bank to borrow money, he has a duty to pay back what he owes to the bank plus the interest. Similarly, people have a duty to pay back to God because He loaned people everything they possess: existence, love, grace, life, wisdom, talent, time and material things. People must pay back to God not only what they borrowed but also the interest. When they return both principal and interest, they only fulfill their duty.
Today readings remind people of their duty to God. In the first reading, St. Paul reminded Titus his duty to improve both knowledge and virtues before he could educate all members of God’s people in the church. In the Gospel, Jesus pointed out to his disciples that God doesn’t need to give thanks to men because if they heartily served God, they only fulfill of their duty.
1/ Reading I: Educate all members of God’s people to live a good life.
The Letter to Titus is one of St. Paul’s pastoral letters. It is called a pastoral letter because its content is related to the faithful’s life. The duty of a religious leader is to educate all members of the church, not to put aside any member.
1.1/ The duty to educate all members in the church of Titus:
(1) The leader himself: No one can give what he doesn’t have, so St. Paul commanded Titus to improve himself both knowledge and virtues.
– About the knowledge: Leadership demands one to be wise. The most important quality is to clearly know what he believes. St. Paul advised Titus, “As for yourself, you must say what is consistent with sound doctrine… With integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us.”
– About the virtues: Not only teaching the doctrine, but also backing up with a virtuous life as Paul said, “showing yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect.”
(2) The other members of the church: A leader can’t pay his attention to only one part of people, he must educate all members. The simple reason for this is because all people are the members of the one body with Christ is the head; and if one member is suffered, the whole body suffers. St. Paul listed out four main parts of a local church:
– The older men: Be the leaders of their family, they have duties to set good examples and to guide their family; so they should “temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love, and endurance.”
– The older women: Since they have a major influence on their children, they should, “be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women.”
– The younger women: are mothers in the future, they should be taught “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers, under the control of their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.”
– The younger men: “Urge the younger men, similarly, to control themselves.”
1.2/ The reasons for everyone to live a good life: St. Paul gave Titus three reasons:
(1) God’s grace: is given for people to live a good life. Paul said, “For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.”
(2) The hope in the eternal life: All faithful must live a good life because “we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ.” On that day, people must receive also all the results of the works they did.
(3) They are God’s chosen people: Since the faithful had been washed by Christ’ most sacred blood, they must live a holy life: Christ “who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.”
2/ Gospel: You only fulfilled your duty.
2.1/ Make a distinction between a duty and a charitable act: In order to understand this short passage, we need to make a distinction between the two following acts.
(1) A duty: is an act that one must perform; for example, the duty of a slave is to serve his master regardless of how many jobs he must do. Jesus gave a practical example: “Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, `Come at once and sit down at table’? Will he not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink’?” Of course, the answer will be the latter. He said that without regret because that was his servant; moreover, he didn’t even think of giving thank since it was the works of his servant.
(2) A charitable act: is an act from the one who has no obligation to perform. If someone is not a servant, and he volunteers to serve others, his act is a charitable act. The one who are served must have gratitude toward him.
2.2/ Does God need to be grateful to men? Men have a duty to serve God because He created human beings. Moreover, God invests all necessary things in men, such as grace, gifts, time, health, etc., so that they can bear fruits for Him. When people bear good fruits, they are only fulfilled their duty and justice, because if they borrowed the capital, they must return both the capital and the interest. Since all things of this world are belonged to God, He doesn’t need to be thankful for what people did, as Jesus declared today: “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
However, if God favors and treats people more nicely as in Luke’s other passage: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them” (Lk 12:37); that is completely of His love for men. This is the most important truth which every Christians needs to ascertain, so that they will not expect God to do what they want, to grant favor when they ask, or they will loose their faith if they have to suffer.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Our duty as leaders of a community or a family is to educate faith for all members. To fulfill our duty, we must first have a strong faith, continue to learn, educate all members and set good examples for all.
– We must make an effort to use all God’s gifts to bear fruits for Him.
– Even when we fulfill everything, we can’t expect God to acknowledge our efforts because we only complete our duty.