05Nov 05 Nov, Saturday of Week 31

Rom 16:3 and passim. Greeting to Paul’s co-workers. A final prayer in honour of the mystery hidden for ages and finally made known in the world-wide gospel.

Lk 16:9ff. A series of maxims about worldly goods and the service of God.

Others as Co-workers

God, creator of the universe and the designer of our body and mind, does not want us to despise the earth or to reduce ourselves to passive automatons. Everything is to be put to the service of God and of one another. If yesterday Jesus reproached his “other-worldly” disciples for not showing the enterprising initiative of the “worldly, ” today Paul greets and commends his active co-workers in the service of the gospel. The gospel, again as yesterday, clearly tells us to make good use of this world’s goods.

The list of co-working colleagues in the final chapter of Romans is long and witnesses to Paul’s recognition of talents and enterprise in others. The list begins with Prisca and Aquila who “risked their lives for the sake of mine” and in whose house the congregation meets for prayer. Then there are: the beloved Epaenetus “first fruits” of his mission in Asia; Mary “who worked hard for you;” a couple named Adronicus and Junias, “fellow prisoners, outstanding apostles… who were in Christ even before me.” Then we catch a glimpse of Paul’s secretary, Tertius, who actually penned the letter, and sends his greetings and those from Paul’s host, “Gaius, and Erastus, city treasurer, and our brother Quartus.”

Clearly, Paul did not run a one-man show, but believed in team ministry and endorsed the talents and vocation of others. Nor was Paul anti-woman. In this list women receive as much attention as they do in Luke’s gospel. In naming the Jewish couple, “Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers, ” Paul names the woman first, she who risked her life for his sake. He praises the hard work of Mary and of Junia, an “outstanding apostle.” The mention and endorsement of these co-workers is highly significant, here where Paul concludes his most elaborate, theological explanation of the gospel that he preaches wherever he goes.

This poses the question whether we too are conscious of the many people who cooperate with us. Do we call attention to our co-workers and give them proper recognition in the presence of others? Do we win for them the appreciation of the church, the way that Paul writes, “Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks to them.” We too should express our dependency on others even while knowing how to maintain our human dignity and self-respect. Paul, moreover, advises us to share our own selves, our time, our insights, our ability to work with hands and head, our sympathetic listening. Thereby, as each gives to the other, there is an “ever-growing balance” of each one’s receiving. All have the dignity of knowing that they give what is helpful and even necessary to the other.

The gospel, as in the preceding days, says unambiguously that we are to make good use of this world’s goods. If we are faithful in these small matters, we can be trusted in greater things. Yet, do not be the slave of money. And in financial matters, very often what humans think important, God holds in contempt.

First Reading: Romans 16:3-9, 16, 22-27

Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

Gospel: Luke 16:9-15

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your heats; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.