by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
Memorial of St. Justin, Martyr
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2 Tim 1: 1-3, 6-12
Mk. 12: 18-27
St. Paul’s letters to Timothy contain insightful teachings on Church doctrine and leadership. Early in his second letter he says “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands” (2 Tm. 1:6).
This is a clear reference to the tradition of ordaining priests and bishops by the laying on of hands. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches are the only Christian dispensations that can trace their lineage back to the apostles in an unbroken chain of succession. The Apostles laid hands on and ordained men like Timothy, and they in turn ordained others, and this tradition was sustained throughout the history of Christianity and is still practiced to this day.
Paul continues with some practical, universal words: “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control” (2 Tm. 1:6). The ways of God are not the ways of the world. Courage and power are not found in competition and warfare but in love and self-control. It takes courage to actually love, especially those who are the least worth loving, as Jesus calls us to do. True power is found not in warfare and competition but in love and self-control.
Those who think that Christianity is an “easy way out” are sorely mistaken, as it is far more difficult to love and have self-control than it is to hate and follow our individual whims and passions. If anything, the ways of culture – of a hedonism that tells us to just do whatever we feel like that makes us temporarily happy – is the actual easy way out.
Although far more difficult, this Christian ideal is the only thing that can truly give us personal peace, a peace that can come only through radical love.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.