Audiences 2005-2013 15116

Wednesday, 15 November 2006 - St Paul and the Spirit

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today too, as in our last two Catecheses, we return to St Paul and his thought. We have before us a giant, not only in terms of his actual apostolate but also of his extraordinarily profound and stimulating theological teaching.

After meditating last time on what Paul wrote about the central place that Jesus Christ occupies in our life of faith, today let us look at what he said about the Holy Spirit and about his presence in us, because here too, the Apostle has something very important to teach us.

We know what St Luke told us of the Holy Spirit from his description of the event of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles. The Spirit of Pentecost brought with him a strong impulse to take on the commitment of the mission in order to witness to the Gospel on the highways of the world.

Indeed, the Acts of the Apostles relates a whole series of missions the Apostles carried out, first in Samaria, then on the coastal strip of Palestine, then towards Syria. Above all, the three great missionary journeys of Paul are recounted, as I recalled at one of our previous Wednesday meetings.

In his Letters, however, St Paul also spoke to us of the Spirit from another angle. He did not end by describing solely the dynamic and active dimension of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, but also analyzed his presence in the lives of Christians, which marks their identity.

In other words, in Paul's reflection on the Spirit he not only explained his influence on the action of Christians, but also on their being. Indeed, it is he who said that the Spirit of God dwells in us (cf.
Rm 8,9 1Co 3,16) and that "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts" (Ga 4,6).

In Paul's opinion, therefore, the Spirit stirs us to the very depths of our being. Here are some of his words on this subject which have an important meaning: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death... you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!', it is the Spirit himself" (Rm 8,2) who speaks in us because, as children, we can call God "Father".

Thus, we can see clearly that even before he does anything, the Christian already possesses a rich and fruitful interiority, given to him in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, an interiority which establishes him in an objective and original relationship of sonship with God. This is our greatest dignity: to be not merely images but also children of God. And it is an invitation to live our sonship, to be increasingly aware that we are adoptive sons in God's great family. It is an invitation to transform this objective gift into a subjective reality, decisive for our way of thinking, acting and being.

God considers us his children, having raised us to a similar if not equal dignity to that of Jesus himself, the one true Son in the full sense. Our filial condition and trusting freedom in our relationship with the Father is given or restored to us in him.

We thus discover that for Christians, the Spirit is no longer only the "Spirit of God", as he is usually described in the Old Testament and as people continue to repeat in Christian language (cf. Gn Gn 41,38 Ex 31,3 1Co 2,11 etc. ). Nor is he any longer simply a "Holy Spirit" generically understood, in the manner of the Old Testament (cf. Is Is 63,10 Ps 51[50]: Ps 13), and of Judaism itself in its writings (Qumran, rabbinism).

Indeed, the confession of an original sharing in this Spirit by the Risen Lord, who himself became a "life-giving Spirit" (1Co 15,45), is part of the specificity of the Christian faith.

For this very reason, St Paul spoke directly of the "Spirit of Christ" (Rm 8,9), of the "Spirit of his Son" (cf. Gal Ga 4,6) or of the "Spirit of Jesus Christ" (Ph 1,19). It is as though he wanted to say that not only is God the Father visible in the Son (cf. Jn 14,9), but that the Spirit of God also expresses himself in the life and action of the Crucified and Risen Lord!

Paul teaches us another important thing: he says that there is no true prayer without the presence of the Spirit within us. He wrote: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rm 8,26-27).

It is as if to say that the Holy Spirit, that is, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, is henceforth as it were the soul of our soul, the most secret part of our being, from which an impulse of prayer rises ceaselessly to God, whose words we cannot even begin to explain.

In fact, the Spirit, ever alert within us, completes what is lacking in us and offers to the Father our worship as well as our deepest aspirations.

This, of course, requires a degree of great and vital communion with the Spirit. It is an invitation to be increasingly sensitive, more attentive to this presence of the Spirit in us, to transform it into prayer, to feel this presence and thus to learn to pray, to speak to the Father as children in the Holy Spirit.

There is also another typical aspect of the Spirit which St Paul teaches us: his connection with love. Thus, the Apostle wrote: "Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rm 5,5).

In my Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, I cited a most eloquent sentence of St Augustine: "If you see charity, you see the Trinity" (), and I continued by explaining: "The Spirit, in fact, is that interior power which harmonizes [believers'] hearts with Christ's Heart and moves them to love their brethren as Christ loved them" (ibid. ). The Spirit immerses us in the very rhythm of divine life, which is a life of love, enabling us to share personally in relations between the Father and the Son.
It is not without significance that when Paul lists the various elements that constitute the fruit of the Spirit he puts love first: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace", etc. (Ga 5,22).

And since by definition, love unites, this means first of all that the Spirit is the creator of communion within the Christian community, as we say at the beginning of Mass, borrowing Paul's words: "... may the fellowship of the Holy Spirit [that is, what he brings about] be with you all" (2Co 13,14).

Furthermore, however, it is also true that the Spirit stimulates us to weave charitable relations with all people. Therefore, when we love we make room for the Spirit and give him leeway to express himself fully within us.

We thus understand why Paul juxtaposes in the same passage of his Letter to the Romans the two exhortations: "Be aglow with the Spirit" and "Repay no one evil for evil" (Rm 12,11).
Finally, according to St Paul, the Spirit is a generous downpayment given to us by God himself as a deposit and at the same time, a guarantee of our future inheritance (cf. 2Co 1,22 2Co 5,5 Ep 1,13-14).

We therefore learn from Paul that the Spirit's action directs our life towards the great values of love, joy, communion and hope. It is our task to experience this every day, complying with the inner promptings of the Spirit and helped in our discernment by the Apostle's enlightened guidance.

To special groups

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including members of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations and members of "Jesus Youth International" from India. May your visit to Rome be a time of joyful spiritual enrichment. Upon all of you, I invoke God's abundant Blessings!

Lastly, my greeting goes to youth, the sick and newly-weds. Today, we are celebrating the memory of Bishop St Albert the Great, who strove ceaselessly to establish peace among the peoples of his time. May his example be an incentive for you, dear young people, to be workers for justice and architects of reconciliation. May it be for you, dear sick people, an encouragement to trust in the Lord, who never abandons us in times of trial. May it be for you, dear newly-weds, an incentive to find in the Gospel the joy of welcoming and generously serving life, God's immeasurable gift.

Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 22 November 2006 - St Paul and the Church

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, we are ending our encounters with the Apostle Paul by dedicating one last reflection to him. Indeed, we cannot take our leave of him without considering one of the decisive elements of his activity and one of the most important subjects of his thought: the reality of the Church.

We must first of all note that his initial contact with the Person of Jesus happened through the witness of the Christian community of Jerusalem. It was a turbulent contact. Having met the new group of believers, he immediately became a fierce persecutor of it. He acknowledged this himself at least three times in as many of his Letters: "I persecuted the Church of God" (
1Co 15,9 Ga 1,13 Ph 3,6), as if to describe his behaviour as the worst possible crime.

History shows us that one usually reaches Jesus by passing through the Church! In a certain sense, this proved true, we were saying, also for Paul, who encountered the Church before he encountered Jesus. In his case, however, this contact was counterproductive; it did not result in attachment but violent rejection.

For Paul, adherence to the Church was brought about by a direct intervention of Christ, who in revealing himself on the road to Damascus identified himself with the Church and made Paul realize that persecution of the Church was persecution of himself, the Lord.

In fact, the Risen One said to Paul, persecutor of the Church: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Ac 9,4). In persecuting the Church, he was persecuting Christ.

Paul, therefore, was at the same time converted to Christ and to the Church. This leads one to understand why the Church later became so present in Paul's thoughts, heart and activity.

In the first place, she was so present that he literally founded many Churches in the various cities where he went as an evangelizer. When he spoke of his "anxiety for all the Churches" (2Co 11,28), he was thinking of the various Christian communities brought into being from time to time in Galatia, Ionia, Macedonia and in Achaea.

Some of those Churches also caused him worry and chagrin, as happened, for example, in the Churches of Galatia, which he saw "turning to a different gospel" (Ga 1,6), something he opposed with grim determination.

Yet, he felt bound to the Communities he founded in a way that was far from cold and bureaucratic but rather intense and passionate. Thus, for example, he described the Philippians as "my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown" (Ph 4,1).

On other occasions he compared the various Communities to a letter of recommendation, unique in its kind: "You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men" (2Co 3,2).

At yet other times, he showed a real feeling for them that was not only paternal but also maternal, such as when he turned to those he was addressing, calling them: "My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you" (Ga 4,19 cf. also 1Co 4,14-15 I Thes 1Co 2,7-8).

Paul also illustrates for us in his Letters his teaching on the Church as such. Thus, his original definition of the Church as the "Body of Christ", which we do not find in other Christian authors of the first century, is well known (cf. 1Co 12,27 Ep 4,12 Ep 5,30 Col 1,24).

We find the deepest root of this surprising designation of the Church in the Sacrament of the Body of Christ. St Paul said: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body" (1Co 10,17). In the same Eucharist, Christ gives us his Body and makes us his Body. Concerning this, St Paul said to the Galatians: "You are all one in Christ" (Ga 3,28). By saying all this, Paul makes us understand that not only does the belonging of the Church to Christ exist, but also a certain form of equality and identification of the Church with Christ himself.

From this, therefore, derive the greatness and nobility of the Church, that is, of all of us who are part of her: from our being members of Christ, an extension as it were of his personal presence in the world. And from this, of course, stems our duty to truly live in conformity with Christ.

Paul's exhortations concerning the various charisms that give life and structure to the Christian community also derive from this. They can all be traced back to a single source, that is, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, knowing well that in the Church there is no one who goes without them, for, as the Apostle wrote, "to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1Co 12,7).

It is important, however, that all the charisms cooperate with one another for the edification of the community and do not instead become the cause of a rift.

In this regard, Paul asked himself rhetorically: "Is Christ divided?" (1Co 1,13). He knows well and teaches us that it is necessary to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call" (Ep 4,3-4).
Obviously, underlining the need for unity does not mean that ecclesial life should be standardized or levelled out in accordance with a single way of operating. Elsewhere, Paul taught: "Do not quench the Spirit" (1Th 5,19), that is, make room generously for the unforeseeable dynamism of the charismatic manifestations of the Spirit, who is an ever new source of energy and vitality.

But if there is one tenet to which Paul stuck firmly it was mutual edification: "Let all things be done for edification" (1Co 14,26). Everything contributes to weaving the ecclesial fabric evenly, not only without slack patches but also without holes or tears.

Then, there is also a Pauline Letter that presents the Church as Christ's Bride (cf. Ep 5,21-33).
With this, Paul borrowed an ancient prophetic metaphor which made the People of Israel the Bride of the God of the Covenant (cf. Hos Os 2,4). He did so to express the intimacy of the relationship between Christ and his Church, both in the sense that she is the object of the most tender love on the part of her Lord, and also in the sense that love must be mutual and that we too therefore, as members of the Church, must show him passionate faithfulness.

Thus, in short, a relationship of communion is at stake: the so to speak vertical communion between Jesus Christ and all of us, but also the horizontal communion between all who are distinguished in the world by the fact that they "call on the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1,2).

This is our definition: we belong among those who call on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we clearly understand how desirable it is that what Paul himself was hoping for when he wrote to the Corinthians should come to pass: "If an unbeliever or an uninitiated enters while all are uttering prophecy, he will be taken to task by all and called to account by all, and the secret of his heart will be laid bare. Falling prostrate, he will worship God, crying out, "God is truly among you'" (1Co 14,24-25).

Our liturgical encounters should be like this. A non-Christian who enters one of our assemblies ought finally to be able to say: "God is truly with you". Let us pray to the Lord to be like this, in communion with Christ and in communion among ourselves.

To special groups

My prayerful greetings go to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today's Audience, including the groups from England, Malta, Japan and the United States of America. I greet especially the Salvatorian Sisters, the American Friends of the Vatican Library and the Delegation from the Association of the Order of Malta. May your visit to the city of the Apostles Peter and Paul renew your love for Christ and his Church, and may God's Blessing be upon you all.

Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. Next Sunday, the last of Ordinary Time, we will be celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King. Dear young people, put Jesus at the centre of your life and you will receive from him light and courage in every daily decision. May Christ, who made the Cross his royal throne, help you, dear sick people, to understand the redemptive value of suffering lived in union with him. As I remind you, dear newly-weds, that this very day is the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio that encouraged pastoral care of the family in the Church, I express the hope that you will persevere on your way in marriage ever united to Christ.

And at the end of this Audience in the rain, I would like to thank you all for your patience, but also to thank the Lord who has given us moments of light and a pause in the rain.
Appeal for Lebanon

I learned with deep sorrow the news of the assassination of the Hon. Mr Pierre Gemayel of the Ministry for Industry of the Lebanese Government. As I firmly condemn this brutal attack, I assure the bereaved family and the beloved Lebanese People of my prayers and spiritual closeness.

In the face of the dark forces that are seeking to destroy the Country, I invite all Lebanese not to allow themselves to be conquered by hatred but rather to strengthen their national unity, justice and reconciliation, and to work together to build a future of peace. Finally, I ask the Leaders of countries who have that Region's future at heart to contribute to a global and negotiated solution to the various situations of injustice that have now marked it for too many years.

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 6 December 2006 - Apostolic Journey to Turkey

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At this General Audience, with what is now the custom after every Apostolic Journey, I would like to retrace the various stages of the Pilgrimage I made in Turkey from Tuesday to Friday last week. As you know, many aspects of this Visit were not easy, but God accompanied it from the outset and so it was a success.

Therefore, just as I asked you to prepare for it and accompany it with your prayers, I now ask you to join me in thanking the Lord for the way it went and for its conclusion.
I entrust to him the fruits that I hope it will yield, both as regards relations with our Orthodox brethren and our dialogue with the Muslims.

I feel it is my duty, first of all, to renew the cordial expression of my gratitude to the President of the Republic, to the Prime Minister and to the other Authorities, who welcomed me so courteously and assured me of the necessary conditions for everything to take place in the best possible way.

I then offer my brotherly thanks to the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Turkey, with their collaborators, for all that they did. I extend my special thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who received me at his home, to the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, to the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mor Filüksinos and to the other Religious Authorities.

I felt spiritually supported throughout the Visit by my venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II, both of whom made a memorable Visit to Turkey, and especially by Bl. John XXIII, who was Papal Representative in that noble Country from 1935 to 1944 and left there memories full of affection and devotion.

With reference to the vision of the Church that the Second Vatican Council presented (cf. Constitution Lumen Gentium, nn. 14-16), I would say that the Pope's Pastoral Journeys help him to carry out his mission that unfolds "in concentric circles". In the innermost circle, the Successor of Peter strengthens Catholics in the faith; in the intermediate circle he meets other Christians; and in the outer one he addresses non-Christians and the whole of humanity.

The first day of my Visit to Turkey was spent within the area of this third "circle", the widest one; I met the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic and the President for Religious Affairs, to whom I addressed my first Speech; I paid homage at his Mausoleum to the "Father of the Homeland", Mustafa Kemal Atatürk; I then had the opportunity to speak to the Diplomatic Corps at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ankara.

This intense sequence of meetings formed an important part of my Visit, especially given that Turkey is a Country with a vast Muslim majority, even if it is governed by a Constitution that asserts the secularity of the State.

It is therefore a Country emblematic of the great challenge at stake today across the globe: on the one hand, we must rediscover the reality of God and the public importance of religious faith; and on the other, we must ensure that people can freely express this faith, that it is not debased by forms of fundamentalism and that they are able to firmly reject every form of violence.

I thus had a favourable opportunity to renew my sentiments of esteem for the Muslims and for the Islamic civilizations. At the same time, I was able to insist on the importance of Christians and Muslims working together for humankind, for life and for peace and justice, reasserting that the distinction between the civil and religious spheres is a value and that the State must assure citizens and religious communities effective freedom of worship.

In the area of interreligious dialogue, divine Providence granted me, almost at the end of my Journey, an unscheduled Visit which proved rather important: my Visit to Istanbul's famous Blue Mosque. Pausing for a few minutes of recollection in that place of prayer, I addressed the one Lord of Heaven and earth, the Merciful Father of all humanity. May all believers recognize that they are his creatures and witness to true brotherhood!

The second day took me to Ephesus, and I therefore quickly found myself in the innermost "circle" of the Journey, in direct contact with the Catholic Community. In fact, the Shrine of Mary's House stands in a pleasant place called the "Hill of the Nightingale" which overlooks the Aegean Sea. This is a small and ancient chapel, built to contain a cottage which, according to a very old tradition, the Apostle John had built for the Virgin Mary after taking her with him to Ephesus.

It was Jesus himself who entrusted them to each other before he died on the Cross, when he said to Mary, "Woman, behold, your son!" and to John, "Behold, your mother!" (
Jn 19,26-27).
Archaeological research has shown that from time immemorial the site has been a place of Marian worship which is also dear to Muslims, who go there regularly to venerate the One they call "Meryem Ana", Mother Mary.

In the garden in front of the Shrine, I celebrated Holy Mass for a group of the faithful who came from the neighbouring city of Izmir, from other parts of Turkey and from abroad. At "Mary's House" we truly felt "at home", and in that atmosphere of peace we prayed for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the world. There, I remembered Fr Andrea Santoro, a Roman priest who witnessed to the Gospel with his blood on Turkish soil.

The intermediate "circle", that of ecumenical relations, occupied the central part of this Visit and took place on the Feast of St Andrew, 30 November. This event provided an ideal context for the consolidation of fraternal relations between the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, a Church which Tradition claims was founded by the Apostle St Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

In the footsteps of Paul VI, who met Patriarch Athenagoras, and John Paul II, who was welcomed by Dimitrios I, Successor of Athenagoras, I renewed this gesture of great symbolic value with His Holiness Bartholomew I, to confirm our reciprocal commitment to persevere on the way towards the re-establishment of full communion between Catholics and Orthodox.

To sanction this firm resolution, I signed a Common Declaration with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, which constitutes a further milestone on our journey. It was particularly significant that this act took place at the end of the solemn Liturgy for the Feast of St Andrew in which I took part; it ended with the double Blessing imparted by the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Successors respectively of the Apostles Peter and Andrew. In this way, we showed that at the root of every ecumenical endeavour there is always prayer and the persevering invocation of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise in this context, I had the joy of visiting His Beatitude Mesrob II, Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and of meeting the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan. In this context, I am also glad to mention my conversation with the Grand Rabbi of Turkey.

My Visit ended, just before departing for Rome, with my return to the innermost "circle", in other words, my meeting with the Catholic Community, all of whose members were present in the Latin Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul.

The Ecumenical Patriarch, the Armenian Patriarch, the Syrian-Orthodox Metropolitan and Representatives of the Protestant Churches were also taking part in this Holy Mass.

In short, all Christians, in the diversity of their traditions, rites and languages, were gathered together in prayer. Comforted by the words of Christ, who promised believers "rivers of living water" (Jn 7,38), and by the image of the many members united in one body (cf. 1Co 12,12-13), we lived the experience of a renewed Pentecost.

Dear brothers and sisters, I returned here to the Vatican, my heart brimming with gratitude to God and sentiments of sincere affection and esteem for the inhabitants of the beloved Turkish Nation, by which I felt welcomed and understood. The appreciation and warmth that surrounded me, despite the inevitable difficulties that my Visit created for the normal functioning of their daily activities, live on as a vivid memory that inspires me to pray. May the Almighty and Merciful God help the Turkish People, their Government Leaders and the Representatives of the different religions to build together a future of peace, so that Turkey may be a "bridge" of friendship and fraternal collaboration between West and East.

Let us also pray that through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the Holy Spirit will make this Apostolic Visit fruitful, and throughout the world enliven the mission of the Church, established by Christ to proclaim the Gospel of truth, peace and love to all Peoples.

To special groups

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including the student groups from America, Australia and Denmark. May your Advent visit to Rome be a time of renewed hope and joy. Upon all of you, I invoke God's abundant Blessings!

Lastly I greet the young people, the sick and the newly-weds.

In these days, the Season of Advent, which has just begun, presents us with a shining example of the Immaculate Virgin. May she encourage you, dear young people, on your journey of attachment to Christ. For you, dear sick people, may Mary be your support for renewed hope, and for you, dear newly-weds, may she be your guide in building your family. My Blessing to you all.

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 13 December 2006 - Timothy and Titus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Having spoken at length on the great Apostle Paul, today let us look at his two closest collaborators: Timothy and Titus. Three Letters traditionally attributed to Paul are addressed to them, two to Timothy and one to Titus.

Timothy is a Greek name which means "one who honours God". Whereas Luke mentions him six times in the Acts, Paul in his Letters refers to him at least 17 times (and his name occurs once in the Letter to the Hebrews).

One may deduce from this that Paul held him in high esteem, even if Luke did not consider it worth telling us all about him.

Indeed, the Apostle entrusted Timothy with important missions and saw him almost as an alter ego, as is evident from his great praise of him in his Letter to the Philippians. "I have no one like him (isópsychon) who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare" (
Ph 2,20).

Timothy was born at Lystra (about 200 kilometres northwest of Tarsus) of a Jewish mother and a Gentile father (cf. Ac 16,1).

The fact that his mother had contracted a mixed-marriage and did not have her son circumcised suggests that Timothy grew up in a family that was not strictly observant, although it was said that he was acquainted with the Scriptures from childhood (cf. 2Tm 3,15). The name of his mother, Eunice, has been handed down to us, as well as that of his grandmother, Lois (cf. 2Tm 1,5).

When Paul was passing through Lystra at the beginning of his second missionary journey, he chose Timothy to be his companion because "he was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium" (Ac 16,2), but he had him circumcised "because of the Jews that were in those places" (Ac 16,3).

Together with Paul and Silas, Timothy crossed Asia Minor as far as Troy, from where he entered Macedonia. We are informed further that at Philippi, where Paul and Silas were falsely accused of disturbing public order and thrown into prison for having exposed the exploitation of a young girl who was a soothsayer by several unscrupulous individuals (cf. Ac 16,16-40), Timothy was spared.

When Paul was then obliged to proceed to Athens, Timothy joined him in that city and from it was sent out to the young Church of Thessalonica to obtain news about her and to strengthen her in the faith (cf. 1Th 3,1-2). He then met up with the Apostle in Corinth, bringing him good news about the Thessalonians and working with him to evangelize that city (cf. 2Co 1,19).

We find Timothy at Ephesus during Paul's third missionary journey. It was probably from there that the Apostle wrote to Philemon and to the Philippians; he sent both Letters jointly with Timothy (cf. Phlm 1; Ph 1,1).

From Ephesus, Paul sent Timothy to Macedonia, together with a certain Erastus (cf. Ac 19,22), and then also to Corinth with the mission of taking a letter to the Corinthians, in which he recommended that they welcome him warmly (cf. 1Co 4,17 1Co 16,10-11).

We encounter him again as the joint sender of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, and when Paul wrote the Letter to the Romans from Corinth he added Timothy's greetings as well as the greetings of the others (cf. Rm 16,21).

From Corinth, the disciple left for Troy on the Asian coast of the Aegean See and there awaited the Apostle who was bound for Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey (cf. Ac 20,4).

From that moment in Timothy's biography, the ancient sources mention nothing further to us, except for a reference in the Letter to the Hebrews which says: "You should understand that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon" (He 13,23).

To conclude, we can say that the figure of Timothy stands out as a very important pastor.

According to the later Storia Ecclesiastica by Eusebius, Timothy was the first Bishop of Ephesus (cf. 3, 4). Some of his relics, brought from Constantinople, were found in Italy in 1239 in the Cathedral of Termoli in the Molise.

Then, as regards the figure of Titus, whose name is of Latin origin, we know that he was Greek by birth, that is, a pagan (cf. Gal Ga 2,3). Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem for the so-called Apostolic Council, where the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles that freed them from the constraints of Mosaic Law was solemnly accepted.

In the Letter addressed to Titus, the Apostle praised him and described him as his "true child in a common faith" (Tt 1,4). After Timothy's departure from Corinth, Paul sent Titus there with the task of bringing that unmanageable community to obedience.

Titus restored peace between the Church of Corinth and the Apostle, who wrote to this Church in these terms: "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me.... And besides our own comfort we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his mind has been set at rest by you all" (2Co 7,6-13).

From Corinth, Titus was again sent out by Paul - who called him "my partner and fellow worker in your service" (2Co 8,23) - to organize the final collections for the Christians of Jerusalem (cf. 2Co 8,6).

Further information from the Pastoral Letters describes him as Bishop of Crete (cf. Ti Tt 1,5), from which, at Paul's invitation, he joined the Apostle at Nicopolis in Epirus (cf. Ti Tt 3,12). Later, he also went to Dalmatia (cf. 2Tm 4,10). We lack any further information on the subsequent movements of Titus or on his death.

To conclude, if we consider together the two figures of Timothy and Titus, we are aware of certain very significant facts. The most important one is that in carrying out his missions, Paul availed himself of collaborators. He certainly remains the Apostle par excellence, founder and pastor of many Churches.

Yet it clearly appears that he did not do everything on his own but relied on trustworthy people who shared in his endeavours and responsibilities.

Another observation concerns the willingness of these collaborators. The sources concerning Timothy and Titus highlight their readiness to take on various offices that also often consisted in representing Paul in circumstances far from easy. In a word, they teach us to serve the Gospel with generosity, realizing that this also entails a service to the Church herself.

Lastly, let us follow the recommendation that the Apostle Paul makes to Titus in the Letter addressed to him: "I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men" (Tt 3,8).

Through our commitment in practice we can and must discover the truth of these words, and precisely in this Season of Advent, we too can be rich in good deeds and thus open the doors of the world to Christ, our Saviour.

To special groups

I offer a cordial welcome to the members of the ecumenical pilgrimage sponsored by the Catholic Bishops' Conference and the National Council of Churches in Korea. May your visit to Rome be a source of inspiration in your efforts to promote the unity of all Christ's followers. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially those from the Philippines, Australia and the United States of America, I cordially invoke God's Blessings of joy and peace.

Lastly, my thoughts go to the sick and to the newly-weds. Dear sick people, who in your experience of illness share with Christ the burden of the Cross, may the upcoming Christmas festivities bring you serenity and comfort. I invite you, dear newly-weds, who have recently founded your family, to grow increasingly in that love which Jesus gave to us in his Nativity.

Paul VI Audience Hall

Audiences 2005-2013 15116