Read 2 Timothy 1:1-8, Ps. 96:1-3,7-8,10, Mark 4:26-34

“Rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

Today, the church celebrates Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops in the early church. We believe they were among the seventy that Jesus sent out in today’s Gospel passage into various towns and villages to spread the Good News. In today’s first reading, St. Paul writes Timothy: “No Gree For Anybody.” This shows that there is also a spiritual dimension to the motto many Nigerians have adopted for this year. Why must we refuse to “gree” for anybody?

1. We Have the Spirit of Power; No Gree for Bullies: God has not given us the spirit of timidity (or cowardice). Timidity (bowing to pressure from others, failing to take a stand for God, being afraid of the devil and his agents) is not a virtue. St. John would say: “Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

Just as a single candle is never intimated by the darkness of an entire room, “No gree for anybody” means that we must never be intimated into sinning (even if this entails suffering). Some Christians are so timid of proclaiming their faith in public. Who says we have to blend in with the culture of immorality? Jesus said: “Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)

2. We Have the Spirit of Love; No Gree for the Devil: Amid our struggles and hardship, it is very easy for us to slide into selfishness, that is, thinking only of ourselves rather than working for the good of others. St. John teaches us: “Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

Jesus sent out the seventy in today’s Gospel passage in the spirit of love. Matthew tells us, "He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36). When there is love in our hearts, we reach out to others physically and spiritually.

3. We Have the Spirit of Self-Control; No Gree for Yourself: Do you know you are your greatest enemy? It is easy to say no to others. It is even easier to say no to the devil, but when it comes to myself (my cravings and desires), I often realise it is a very difficult battle. If we lack self-discipline (if we ‘gree’ for ourselves), we can never grow, and we become obstacles to the spread of the Gospel. This is why Jesus gave stringent rules to the seventy in today’s Gospel passage: “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road… remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide… do not go from house to house.” If you succeed in conquering yourself, you have conquered the world.

In conclusion, though we may all have God’s spirit in us, we would not progress spiritually without fanning this spirit into flames. From the stories of Saul and David, we have already learnt that anointing without hard work is a failure. Talent is never enough. God, who made you without your cooperation, will not save you without your cooperation.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, remove any timidity from me. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops. Bible Study: 2 Timothy 1:1-8, Ps. 96:1-3,7-8,10, Mark 4:26-34).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu