As for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.
Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
If you trust in the Lord and do good,
then you will live in the land and be secure.
If you find your delight in the Lord,
he will grant your heart's desire. (R./)
He protects the lives of the upright,
their heritage will last for ever.
The Lord guides the steps of a man
and makes safe the path of one he loves. (R./)
Then turn away from evil and do good
and you shall have a home for ever.
The just shall inherit the land;
there they shall live for ever. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples: "Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'"
The Letter to Titus shows careful respect for the social values of the local culture, yet also reminds him to set everything within the context of divine grace. The pastor's teaching must be "consistent with sound doctrine" and the core of this sound doctrine concerns the "glory of our God and of our Saviour Christ Jesus." What we do in this life will determine our place at his glorious second coming.
The letter is quite pragmatic. Both it and today's gospel take for granted social and cultural structures that are unacceptable today. In a parable, Jesus mentions what a master would expect from the slave. For work well done the master need not be grateful, since the slave was only carrying out orders. Neither Jesus nor Paul gave any endorsement of slavery; indeed they prepared the way for its abolition by teaching the dignity of every individual. But in the sight of God we must humble ourselves like "unprofitable servants" who trust in divine mercy rather than any merit of our own.
It must be admitted that the frequent repetition in the Roman Missal of the phrase "that we may merit" (ut mereamur), tends to be embarrassing, in light of the final words in today's Gospel!
In the era of slavery, those slaves who did what their masters ordered did not expect to be thanked for doing so. Carrying out orders did not put their master under any obligation to them. Something similar applies in our relationship with God. Even thouth we are called to serve God in our lives and our worship, the grace of God remains a free gift and not something that we have strictly earned or merited.
We try to do our duty as best we can, day in and day out, but at the end of the day, even after doing all He asks of us we come before God with empty hands. But it is our poverty that opens us up to receive the divine mercy. It is by becoming like little children that we enter the kingdom. In the words of the Magnificat, God feeds the hungry with good things, but the rich he sends empty away.