As mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry, today a good friend of mine celebrates his 20th anniversary as a bishop. Congratulations to Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida! I’ve always felt that he could not have had a better day in the liturgical calendar for his ordination other than the feast of these two great companions of St. Paul, Sts. Timothy and Titus. My reason for this? Simple. Friendship with Jesus Christ. Friendship with others in service of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Lynch chose as his episcopal motto: Pro Amicis Suis, or For His Friends. The motto comes from John’s Gospel, Chapter 15, where Jesus talks about friendship. Jesus calls us friends. Jesus tells us there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. For those of us who know Bishop Lynch, we know this is more than a motto for him. As one of his friends remarked at the end of dinner last night, everyone who knows Bob knows that if you are in trouble or facing a difficulty of any kind, he will be at your side in the matter of time that it takes him to make the journey. And he will remain there until the crisis passes.
I told someone else during dinner last night that I’m not sure I would have ever made it to the altar as a priest had it not been for the friendship and support of +Bob Lynch. But once I made it to the altar; once I became a priest, I knew this was who God created me to be. In my early life as a priest, and before, Bob modeled what it means to be a good priest. Now, the mentoring continues as he helps me be the best bishop I can be for God’s people.
I believe this was the kind of support and ‘training’ provided by St. Paul to both Timothy and Titus. And who knows, perhaps Timothy and Titus were also good friends, giving each other fraternal support in their vocations and life as bishops in the early Church.
When I was a seminarian in Rome, I visited St. Paul Outside the Walls with a good priest friend. We visited the burial place of St. Paul at the base of the main altar. My priest friend told me that St. Timothy is buried beside St. Paul. I asked him if that was true? He said: “If it is not, it should be!” St. Paul and St. Timothy are models of friendship in the service of Christ and his Church.
Feasts like today remind us that we all need friends. First and foremost, we need to experience the friendship of Jesus Christ. Then, once we enter his service, we need the support of other faith-filled people with whom we grow in holiness together.
My dear friends, let us be together in friendship with Christ! Let us serve Him together in our labors on behalf of God’s holy People.
Sts. Timothy and Titus, Pray for us!