01Jun 01 June 2019. Saturday of Week 6 of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 18:23-28

Aquila, a learned convert from Judaism, helps the church in southern Greece

After spending some time there Paul left 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.

Responsorial: Psalm 46: 2-3, 8-10

Response: God is king of all the earth.

All peoples, clap your hands,
cry to God with shouts of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, we must fear,
great king over all the earth. (R./)

God is king of all the earth.
Sing praise with all your skill.
God is king over the nations:
God reigns on his holy throne. (R./)

The princes of the peoples are assembled
with the people of Abraham’s God.
The rulers of the earth belong to God,
to God who reigns over all. (R./)

Gospel: John 16:23-28

Final promises: Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete

Jesus said to his disciples,
“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.”


Open to change

While Jesus invites our total dependence on the Holy Spirit, our reading from the Acts offers another dimension. We also needs guidance and encouragement in our faith, from fellow human beings. Apollos was well on the way toward joining the church, but he needed the help of others to take the final step. This gifted Jewish intellectual was led to Jesus through the ministry of Priscilla and Aquila. Remarkably, the wife is here named before her husband, indicating the respected role of this woman in the early Church’s ministry. Texts like this help us to appreciate Paul’s attitude to women and the teamwork of married people in the Church’s outreach to new converts.

Prisca and Aquila not only welcomed other Christians in Ephesus but served as religious educators too. To teach people as learned as Apollos they had to be well informed, and capable of real dialogue on matters of faith. Apollos was risking his reputation as a Jewish preacher by venturing to explore this new faith. He journeyed to conversion under the direction of Priscilla and Aquila. The Holy Spirit is active where people generously share with others about what they really believe. Understanding grows when all are open to what the Spirit will reveal.

Jesus also underwent this process of transformation. He must leave this world in order to send the Holy Spirit. This compares with the risks of leaving behind the tried and true, as experienced by Apollos. To belong to Jesus we need to fully surrender to where the Father will lead us. On handing ourselves over to this process, we can share the experience of Jesus himself: “I have come from the Father, into the world. Now I am leaving the world to go to the Father.”

A sharing community

The early Christians were committed to supporting and helping each other to know God better. Paul went about strengthening the faith of the local communities, and we hear how Apollos, a very gifted man, was helped to a fuller faith in Jesus. A married couple, Priscilla and Aquila, befriended him and shared with him their deeper understanding of the Christian Way. Later, when Apollos decided to journey over the Aegean Sea to Corinth, the church in Ephesus encouraged him to do so. Recognising his great gifts of learning, they sent a letter of commendation ahead of him to the church in Corinth.

When Apollos reached Corinth, his knowledge of the Scriptures was greatly welcomed. The Acts paints a wonderful picture of the church at its best – believers helping, supporting and encouraging each other in the faith, to grow in the Lord. This is what the church in every generation is called to be, an interactive community where the Spirit of Christ is alive and active. As we approach Pentecost we need to pray for an increase of this gift of the Spirit among us, as Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.”


Saint Justin, Martyr

Justin (100-165) was a lawyer and philosopher from Neapolis in Judaea (modern Nablus), who spent his adult life in Rome. He was the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century. A gifted writer, his best known surviving text is his Apologia to the Roman emperor, Antoninus, defending Christian morality, and offering ethical and philosophical arguments to get him to cease persecuting the Christian church. For refusing to sacrifice to the emperor, he was beheaded after a trial by Junius Rusticus, prefect of Rome.

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