St. Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus
The high esteem with which the Apostle Paul cherished Timothy, and the many praises which he bestowed upon him in his Epistles, are a convincing proof that St. Timothy was adorned with all those virtues which characterize an apostolic man. St. Paul calls him his dearest son and faithful companion, a servant of Christ, his brother, and the servant of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who does not seek himself, but Christ the Lord, etc., all encomiums that can only be given to a great Saint. Timothy was born at Listra, or Listris, in Lycaonia. His fatk was a pagan, and his mother, a Jewess, embraced the Christian religion when St. Paul came with St. Barnabas to Listra.
By the care of his mother, Timothy was brought up in the Faith, and was well instructed in the laws of God. When, afterwards, St. Paul came with Silas, his companion in his journeys, to Listra, he chose Timothy for co-laborer in announcing the doctrine of Jesus. After that, Timothy made many difficult journeys with St. Paul, and was often sent to preach the Gospel in various places whither the Apostle could not go in person. To make him more fit for these duties, St. Paul ordained him priest, and afterwards Bishop of Ephesus. He sent him two Epistles, the first from Laodicea, the second from Rome, in both of which he instructed him most carefully how to fulfil the duties of the Episcopal dignity. From one of these letters, we learn that Timothy had fasted strictly, and had abstained from the use of wine. Paul who was anxious about his health, advised him, on acount of his weak stomach, to take a little wine.
The Saint finished the great labors, which he underwent for the conversion of the pagans and the good of the newly converted, with a glorious martyrdom. For, when at Ephesus, where many were still pagans, a great feast was held in honor of the goddess Diana, the holy Bishop, urged on by his great zeal, went into the midst of the pagans, who were just engaged in offering sacrifices. With earnest and impressive words he showed them the impiety of their actions, and requested them to desist. But the enraged pagans rushed furiously upon him, dragged him for a time upon the earth, and at last began to stone him. Then the Christians bore him away by main force, and carried him to the top of a neighboring hill, where, full of joy that he could suffer and die according to his desire for the name of Christ, he gave up the ghost.
Notwithstanding his apostolic labors, St. Timothy fasted very strictly, and voluntarily abstained from the use of wine until St. Paul ordered him to take some. Can you not observe strictly at least the obligatory fasts of the Church? Do you believe that those excuses which you now give will avail before God? Can you not at times, through the desire of overcoming yourself for, the love of God, or of mortifying your body, which has sinned so much, abstain from some drink or food which is pleasing to you? Why do you not do so? Believe me, these victories over yourself, though they appear small, are precious sacrifices, most pleasing to God, which we can offer daily with great merit. Zealous servants of God have always been most diligent in their practice. For we derive by them the advantage of keeping farther off from unlawful pleasures, the more we endeavor to abstain from such as are lawful. “True servants of God,” says St. Gregory, “have this peculiarity, that they abstain from lawful pleasures in order to remove themselves farther from those which are unlawful.”
Lives of the Saints: Compiled from Authentic Sources with a Practical Instruction on the Life of Each Saint, for Every Day in the Year by Rev. F. X. Weninger. Permissu Superiorum. New York: P. O’Shea, Publisher, 67 Barclay Street and 42 Park Place. 1876.