07Nov 7th November. Saturday of Week 31.

Saint Willibrord, bishop and missionary (see below).

1st Reading: Romans 16:3-9 etc

Greeting Paul’s co-workers, and praise of God’s unfolding plan

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

Maxims about worldly goods and the service of God

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.

bible

Saint Willibrord, bishop and missionary.

Willibrord (c. 658-739) was a Northumbrian missionary who, at the request of Pepin, Christian king of the Franks, brought Christianity to Frisia (now Holland) and was the first Bishop of Utrecht. Due to his frequent visits to Echternach (Luxemburg), where he was later interred. Willibrord’s hagiography was written by Alcuin of Northumbria, later archbishop of York.

Others as Co-workers

The list of colleagues named and priased by Paul in the final chapter of Romans shows how much he valued the contribution of others to the success of his own work. 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 gifts and talents of many 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.

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.

***

Using money well

St Paul once wrote that money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10). In today’s gospel, what concerns Jesus is not money in itself but rather about the use that money is put to. He advises, “use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.” He uses the language of trust in relation to money. It is something that we are entrusted to use well, and if we show ourselves to be worthy of that trust, by using it well, then the day will come when we will be blessed with genuine riches, the riches of eternal life. Jesus seems to be saying that more important even than what we have is what we do with what we have. Whatever resources come our way, we are called upon to use them in the service of others. The gospel challenges us every day to use what we have to benefit others, and what we have includes not only our material possessions, but our gifts and talents, our experience and our time. We all have much that can benefit others, if we are willing to give it away and to share it. (Martin Hogan)

3 Responses

  1. Pádraig McCarthy

    In the sentence “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles …”:
    For some reason, the Jerusalem Bible, including the New Jerusalem, and the lectionary, omit the words “they are prominent among the apostles”. I have not found any other translation which does that.
    Is it simply an error? Or could there be a reservation in case Junia is a woman, as seems to have been accepted in the early church?
    Maybe Pat Rogers or some other person better versed in these complexities can cast light on this!

  2. Soline Humbert

    WHO KILLED JUNIA? Unfortunately the Lectionary persists in calling her” Junias” a pseudo male name made up conveniently for the purpose, since of course it is unthinkable that a woman could be an apostle….

    http://juniaproject.com/who-killed-junia-part-one/
    http://juniaproject.com/who-killed-junia-part-two/

    And of course PHOEBE THE DEACON(Romans 16:1-2) has already been dropped from the list in the lectionary, as pointed out by Eamonn O Carragain in his recent comment on this website( @21 http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2015/11/priests-call-for-open-discussion-on-the-need-for-equality-of-women-in-all-aspects-of-church-life-including-ministry/)
    Imagine if Catholic assemblies in the pews heard that there were women deacons and apostles in the early church…..

  3. Pat Rogers

    Thanks for that perceptive query, Padraig. Indeed yes, the NRSV rightly translates Romans 16:7 as “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.” This seems a good translation of the Greek, as in Nestle-Aland “Novum Testamentum Graece” (28th edn., 2012) which reads: ” Aspasasthe Andronikon kai Iounian tous suggeneis mou kai sunaichmalotous mou, hoitines eisin episemoi en tois apostolois, hoi kai pro emou gegonan en Christo.”
    Episemoi can be rendered as “prominent” or “notable”; but the phrase can mean “well-known to the apostles” (a rather less likely translation). The pair are probably regarded as APOSTLES by St Paul, who uses that term for a much wider circle than the TWELVE who were named apostles by Jesus; and yes, they probably were a married couple, since Junia/Iounias is more commonly a female name. It’s odd that the Lectionary should omit that phrase. Might it be based more on theological censorship than on textual criticism?

    As you spotted that omission in the Lectionary today, dare I say that if you’d like to contribute some homily ideas to our Sunday Homily Resources section for 2016, I’m sure that would please many of our readers as well as myself!


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