1TIMOTHY 2:1-8

In writing his 1st Epistle to Timothy Saint Paul seems to give as the model of a truly Christian life a style resembling what later became prominent features of the monastic way.  He stress a tranquil, quiet tone as the preferred atmosphere in which believers should spend their days.  They are to occupy themselves, he strongly recommends to the faithful, primarily with supplication, prayer, and thanksgivings.  The original Greek text strengthens this impression that the ideal life has a liturgical element along with private prayer, for the word translated as thanksgivings is eucharistias.  We know that in the very early Church celebration of the Eucharist was a markedly intimate and quite informal affair.  Paul may well have included the Eucharist among the acts of thanksgiving he has in mind as he instructs his young disciple on his pastoral charge.

The apostle to the gentiles further elaborates his teaching so as to make it clear that Christian concern extends to all persons, civil authorities included.  In doing so he reminds Timothy that the Church is by its nature universal, that is to say, kath'olon, the Greek term for Catholic.  For, as he writes He is "our God and Savior who wills everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."  In the course of this letter of instruction Paul, realized the need to give more detailed advice:  "Those who want to become rich," he writes, "fall into temptation and in the snare of the devil; they encounter many useless, harmful desires. . . .  Cupidity is the root of all evils."  Paul then goes on to urge Timothy to "order the rich of this world not to become high-minded" for the abundance of good things to enjoy easily leads astray.

Pope Francis, following the teaching of Saint Francis of Assissi, his patron saint, has been proclaiming this same message loudly by his actions as well as in word. His broad experience of life in Latin America has sharpened his sensitivity to the disadvantaged.  He recognizes the truth of Ecclesiastes on the signs of the times:  "There is a season for everything under the sun", and he has been telling our society that ours is a time for giving our resources to those who lack resources.  Concern for those living in poverty is expressed by the patron he chose as Pope.  By publicly simplifying the papal style of life, Pope Francis has managed in the few months he has been in office to draw attention of the Church and of secular society in the West as a whole, to the needs of the poor and less privileged.  He has managed to communicate this message prominently by living in a simple apartment rather than occupying the Papal rooms in the Vatican, by his simpler dress and by his pastoral visits to the sick and the underprivileged.  In his talks he has urged religious and lay alike to adopt a simpler way of life so as to reduce the great divide between the well-to-do and the needy.  The many articles and books that treat of the earlier life of the Holy Father make well known that he himself has been following this way of simplicity as a priest, as bishop, and as cardinal.  This emphasis of his papacy has gained him a wide audience for the Gospel message that he proclaims in convincing words as well as by such visible example.

Saint Paul's directive to Timothy, his cherished disciple, as we hear in today's reading has been witnessing to Christ's example and teaching on self-denial, service, and simplicity of life and of heart from the earliest days of the Church.  May this message that is proclaimed to us at this Eucharist continue to find a willing reception in the Church and in each of us who are gathered together by our common faith in our Savior.  By the strength and conviction of truth we receive at this liturgy each of us shares, may we renew in our hearts and in the whole Church the same spirit that animated Paul and lives today in the person of Christ, speaking through Francis our Pope.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger