Ti 2:1-8, 11-14
If you have ever taken care of a small child, say 3 or 4 years old, you have had the experience of getting that child to do something they do not want to do. The more you push, the harder they resist, until it becomes a monumental battle of wills, a battle which you may well lose. As the battle rages the child will finally turn to you and shout, “You’re not the boss of me!” It may be frustrating to hear those words, but you will hear them, because that child, like all of us, has a stubborn streak. None of us likes to be told what to do. Admit it, when someone comes to you and says you have to do this, what is your initial reaction? No I don’t have to do it either. And you can’t make me. You may even think or perhaps say, “You’re not the boss of me!” And you’re not even three years old. We just don’t like being told what to do. So what do we find in the first reading from Titus? Someone apparently telling us what to do! Older men are to be temperate and dignified, older women are to be reverent and not slander. Younger women are to learn to be good housekeepers and to be under the control of their husbands (ha! try that in my house!). Younger men are to be self-controlled and respectful; you get the idea, a lot of stuff that we are supposed to do. If the people who read this originally are like people today their reaction may have been “you’re not the boss of me!” Before we react like spoiled children, perhaps we should look at these admonitions in a different way. Perhaps we need to look at them not as things we have to do, but as things we are supposed to be. That is a very different proposition. These aren’t the beginning of the process, the things that I do that make me Christian, They are more like the end of the process, the things I will be if I am a Christian. None of them are things we can do alone. We must have help, the help of God, the help of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians Paul speaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal. 5: 22-23) They sound a lot like the things we are called upon to be in Titus. But they aren’t really the end of the process, they are the process. They are the things we are, if we allow the Spirit to work through us. We won’t always make it, we will fail and fall back into our old stubborn ways, but we will succeed as well. They are the things we are if instead of spoiled children, we allow ourselves to be the children of God.
Tuesday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time
Nov. 14, 2006