Today is the Feast day of Sts. Timothy and Titus. These great friends of Paul were early disciples of the church who gave themselves to the development of the church. Most accounts of these two pioneers of the church describe them as dedicated and in Timothy’s case, quiet and/or timid. I am struck on reading Paul’s letter to Timothy the nature of Paul’s advice to this servant. Paul advises Timothy on how to lead the church. He also is quick to remind Timothy to look after himself. I love the advice that Paul offers in 1 Timothy 5:21 -23. This is what it says in first the NRSV and then in a paraphrase of scripture entitled the Message.
The New Revised Standard Version
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.
I think that advice is pretty good. It goes beyond the thought of “relax – have a drink.” In this instance Paul is reminding Timothy to do more than just work. The reminder is to do self care. That is to say avoid getting sucked into awful situations and do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. It is interesting to note that Paul does not, in this case, include abstinence from alcohol as a prerequisite to purity.
So here is what I will do. I will hope in the next few hours to put my feet up and do what I can to toast Sts Timothy and Titus. There is so much to be done, that some days I forget to take a moment for myself. Paul’s admonition to Timothy is a reminder to us all to be attentive to ourselves and not let the rest of the stuff of life get in the way of being healthy. This is not a message to go off and drink (although I will argue that it may very well mean that in this case), this is a message to go off and find a way to relax and be healthy. So I gotta run …There is a cold beverage waiting and I need to put my feet up!