Saint Paul told Timothy, who was a somewhat timid apostle, to fan the flame of the Holy Spirit within him so that he could be more effective in leading the church in Ephesus. Paul’s advice wasn’t only for Timothy, who found himself in a particularly challenging situation. These words apply just as much to us in our own situation today. After all, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead—the same Spirit that empowered Saint Timothy—lives in us as well.
But why should we fan the flame of the Spirit? Because God wants us to make a difference in this world, and he knows that we can’t do this by our own strength. Only Christ working through us can empower us to build up the Kingdom of God. At the same time, we can’t just sit around and expect God to do the work for us, for as Saint James says “faith without action is dead” (James 2:17). We must step out in faith, learning to rely on the spiritual gifts Our Lord has given us.
So what practical steps can we take? How can we actually “fan the flame” of the Holy Spirit in our lives? If we begin by following Our Lord in the small things, not only will our faith grow but so will our experience of God’s power. And that means spending time with God in prayer. It means helping the poor and needy. It means doing something extra for the people with whom we share our lives in order to demonstrate our love for them. In these and many other ways we fan the flame of the Holy Spirit within us.
This is how Saint Timothy and Saint Titus became so effective as apostles and witnesses to Our Lord’s life, death and resurrection. Just like the rest of us, they each had their own strengths and weaknesses. But over time, as they cooperated with the Holy Spirit, they witnessed God work wonders in them and through them.