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Archive for January 26th, 2018

Quote of the Day

What kind of marriage can there be when the wife is afraid of her husband?  What sort of satisfaction could a husband himself have, if he lives with his wife as if she were a slave and not with a woman by her own free will?  Suffer anything for her sake, but never disgrace her, for Christ never did this with the Church. (St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20)

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Acts 20: 28-35

Psalm 71: 1-14

Titus 1: 1-9

St. Luke 10: 1-9

St. Titus, like Timothy with whom he is often  associated, was a friend and co-worker of St, Paul. Titus was a Gentile, perhaps a native of Antioch, who accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem when they brought assistance to the Christians in Judea during a famine (Acts 11:29-30; Galatians 2:1). It is not known if he accompanied Paul on his first or second missionary journeys, but Titus was with him on the third one, when he helped reconcile the Corinthians to Paul (2 Corinthians 7:6-7) and assisted with the collection for the Church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:3-6). It was probably on the return to Jerusalem that Paul left Titus in Crete (Titus 1:4-5). Afterward he is found working in Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10). According to tradition, Titus returned to Crete, where he served as bishop until he died about AD 96. 

(From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

The Epistle Reading:  Titus 1: 1-9

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer (or bishops), as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Reflection:    January 24th was the Feast Day of St. Timothy, yesterday, January 25th, the Conversion of St. Paul, today St. Titus and tomorrow the Commemoration of St. John Chrysostom, Preacher.  When I began at my third congregation, the first one in the south, I went to see a home bound man, in a wheelchair, at his home and when I came in, “The preacher man is here!”  These four days of feasts and a commemoration are all about preacher men.  

The Apostle Paul tells his brother Pastor Titus that through the preaching of Word that the fullness of the truth was “manifested”.  The Greek word is very much akin to the name of this liturgical season:  epiphany. God makes manifest His will of salvation by grace alone through the preaching of the Word which means the Lord calls preachers and calls them to be faithful in preaching as men of integrity according to the Gospel.  This is a good day to give thanks to the Lord for faithful preachers especially the men you have known, bringing the Word to pulpit Sunday after Sunday, at the hospital, in a home bound member’s home, in a school, in classes, at the grave.  As you give thanks to the Lord let your thanks be known to your pastor as well.

In The Large Catechism by Martin Luther, in his explanation of the 4th Commandment, Honor Your Father and Your Mother, Luther taught that there are three offices of fathers, and a fourth one:

“…we have three kinds of fathers presented in this commandment: fathers by blood, fathers of a household, and fathers of the nation. Besides these, there are also spiritual fathers—not like those in the papacy who applied this title to themselves but performed no fatherly office. For the name spiritual father belongs only to those who govern and guide us by the Word of God. St. Paul boasts that he is a father in I Cor. 4:15, where he says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”

The two words in the good work of being a father, or a mother, are the authority of “no” and “yes”.  You can’t do this, you should not do that, be careful and the like.  Yes, come, let us worship the Lord, Yes,the Lord has forgiven you, Yes, I love you and will care for you, No, you can’t go out Friday night, Yes, good job on the test.  

“Fathers of a nation”, that is government, usually only use the word “No”, the political use of the Law for restraining evil (cf.  Romans 13:4) .

“Fathers of a household” meant for Luther the household with staff, that is, maids and servants.  Since many of us do not have such (!), and watch Downton Abbey wishing we did (!), this portion of the catechism seems irrelevant, but some have suggested that the modern equivalent is our places of work and  our superiors at work.  The boss must also apply with wisdom “no” and “yes”. 

Then there are spiritual fathers. In Paul’s short epistle to Titus, describing the work of the elder/overseer, that is pastor, Paul uses the word rebuke three times, as in the first time in the Epistle reading above:

He (the pastor)  must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine (yes) and also to rebuke those who contradict it (no).

But in our forever affirming, self-esteeming, always should feel good culture and society, the role of pastor actually rebuking, saying “no”  to false doctrine is even actively despised.  This means that the reality of sound doctrine, that Christ saves sinners, is also blunted.  Some pastors like to think of themselves as “coaches”, constantly cheering on the team…but that’s a cheerleader and an actual  coach has plenty of rebukes! 

Pastors are not to relish in rebuking, as it is not pleasant to receive  discipline or to discipline, but for the sake of the “sound doctrine” it needs to be done at the right time.   The pastor is also “disciplined” in his comportment according the humility of knowing that the Lord loves me a sinner as well, but when that sinfulness is not acknowledged and confessed (cf.1 John 1:7-9), and false doctrines are sought to justify sinfulness, something has to be said. Pray for your pastor  as he teaches you God’s Word of No and Yes, Law and Promise for you to love and know Jesus Christ.  He has been installed to guide his flock to goal of “eternal life” according to the compass of, “…the trustworthy word as taught”. 

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