11 May, 2013. Saturday in the Sixth Week of Easter
Acts 18:23-28. Aquila, a learned convert from Judaism, helps the church in southern Greece.
Jn 16:23ff. ‘Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.’
First Reading: Acts 18:23-28
After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
Now there came to Ephesus a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, well-versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord; and he spoke with burning enthusiasm and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately. And when he wished to cross over to Achaia, the believers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. On his arrival he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus.
Gospel: John 16:23-28
On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”
Template for Lay Apostles
While today’s gospel implies our immediate awareness of the Holy Spirit, the first reading takes a different slant: our faith also needs guidance from other Christians. Despite his learning and eloquence Apollos had not advanced beyond the teaching of John the Baptist. He was certainly on the way toward being a disciple of Jesus and showed great goodwill. Yet he was not self-sufficient. In the plan of God, Apollos would be led into the mystery of Jesus through the ministry of the couple Priscilla and Aquila.
We note that the wife’s name precedes that of her husband, an unusual phenomenon for those times and indicative of the strong role of this woman in the Church’s ministry. Texts like this help us to appreciate the attitude of St. Paul toward women and the teamwork of married people in the Church’s apostolate. This couple not only provided a welcome for other Christians in Ephesus but served as educators in theology. To dialogue with someone as knowledgeable as Apollos and lead him beyond the message of John the Baptist meant that the couple were well informed, capable ofdialogue and open to insights from the Holy Spirit.
Apollos was risking his security and his renown as a learned preacher to be led beyond the borders of his eloquence. His journey of fuller conversion was made under the direction of Priscilla and Aquila. Evidently the Spirit is received while people share their faith with one another. A community of faith must be formed in which it becomes evident that all are open to what the Holy Spirit will reveal.
Jesus himself exemplified this process of transformation. He must leave this world in order to send the Holy Spirit. This offers a good comparison with the risks of leaving behind the tried and true, as experienced by Apollos. To belong to Jesus we must share in Jesus’ total surrender to the Father. On making such a gift of oneself we will more fully realize where Jesus is leading us: “I have come from the Father, into the world. Now I am leaving the world to go to the Father.”