Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
The office of Bishop and deacon serves as the subject matter for today’s first reading from Paul’s letter to Timothy. No doubt these are some of the first “job descriptions” that have been recorded. Looking through the list, it becomes obvious that this list of expectations is a recapitulation of the basic idea Jesus put forward when he said that a man cannot have two masters, he cannot serve both God and money.
This is a basic idea but one worth recalling. Sometimes we lose track of the goal and substitute the means for an end in itself. The job description listed skills and attributes which, for the most part, could be applied to any serious Christian. What impresses me about this list of attributes is not that it identifies a flight from the world or an abnegation of worldly possessions, rather, Timothy reminds anyone who seeks office within the church that the focus is on Christ and that we use means to help us to that end. Pope Francis, in his homily to the Jesuits on the Feast of St. Ignatius asked this question: “Is Christ the center of my life? Do I really put Christ at the center of my life? Because there is always the temptation to want to put ourselves in the center.”
Although this section of Paul’s letter describes the office of Bishop and Deacon, his admonition recalls the importance of not confusing the central message of the gospel with the means of preaching that gospel, particularly when it comes to how we understand the role of monetary resources.