Scripture: Lectionary 490. Nov.9. Romans 16:3-9.16.22-27. Psalm 145:2-3,4-5,10-11. Luke 16:9-15:
In the mentioning of names in the Churches that Paul founded or worked with we have a marvelous testimony to the effectiveness he had with people in not only bringing Good News to them but also developing strong ties to each and everyone whom he met. The names give us a glimpse into the friendships he made with the new believers who then become leaders and apostles in the emerging Churches throughout the lands the apostles preached about Jesus and the mystery of God hidden from the beginning of the world. In this farewell and conclusion he names twenty-six different persons. Each of them represents someone in the church who was as fully alive as we are today. We learn of them through Paul’s remembering to thank them or include them in his greeting at the end of the greatest epistle he wrote, that of Romans.
He uses the word “apostle” for some of them. This attests to their leadership in carrying on the mission of Jesus to the world of Gentiles as well as Jews. Paul, of course, is the Apostle of the Gentiles. The ease with which he mentions these persons shows us that the church is supposed to be concerned with persons who then relate to God in worship, praise, and thanksgiving as the Persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is a Church that is vibrant and joyous because it is personal in many of its characteristics of being holy, one, apostolic, and universal in its outreach.
Such phenomenal growth in these emerging local churches is seen in one of the images Jesus used. The parable or metaphor of the mustard seed that had such a small beginning as a single seed now is showing its full growth in which the birds of the air come to gather on its branches. This is seen in the letter’s conclusion by also the lands that are represented by the people who are mentioned: Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, etc.
I especially liked seeing Aquila and Priscilla being mentioned once more. We became acquainted with them as co-workers with Paul in the trade of tentmaking and dear friends who are referred to in the Acts (18:2,18, 26), I Corinthians 16:19 and II Timothy 4:19. Within a dozen years after Jesus death they are fleeing from Rome to Corinth where they meet up with Paul.
Paul keeps all these people alive in our own memories as we read their names in the inspired conclusion to his letter to the Romans. He calls them the saints or holy ones…and we do, too. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.