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Stir it

stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. 

St. Paul is writing a closing letter to the Bishop he installed over the Church in Ephesus. Timothy had been Paul’s student and coworker, traveling on Paul’s missionary journeys. Timothy learned from Paul and like Paul was filled with zeal for the faith. He wanted people to know about Jesus, and like him, to leave all behind to follow Jesus. Timothy cowrote some of Paul’s letters to the Churches and he was entrusted with important missions. After being installed as bishop, he oversaw the Church in Ephesus for thirty-three years.

In spite of all this, the co-work, zeal, the fact he left everything behind for Jesus, Paul issues this last letter filled with reminders. Included therein, thankfulness for Timothy’s work, today’s reminder on the gifts Timothy received, examples of the suffering Paul endured as a reminder that Timothy will also be called on to suffer at times, reminders about proper conduct as a witness to the power of the gospel, the care Timothy must use in facing the dangers of the last days, and a reminder of the reward that awaits him.

While only four very short chapters, this letter reminded Timothy, and reminds us, of the deep obligation incumbent on us to preach the word and to make Jesus known with patience, courage, constancy, and endurance. We have the gifts to do all this and more even in the face of opposition, hostility, indifference, and defection.

I mentioned, in spite of all this… Timothy could have said, look at all I have done. I don’t really need reminders. But he did and so do we. In reality it is far beyond reminders. Stirring it up is more than someone helping us recollect what we are called to. It is igniting our passion – passion for Jesus’ way of life. Passion that calls us to exemplify, in even the smallest of things, the gospel life. Passion that will not help but cause us to sing out rejoicing in our salvation. Passion that will not let us sit by and let any go unsaved.

Paul called Timothy, as he was called by Jesus. He passes those words to us: Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. Reach up! Stir it up!