Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
May 20, 2023
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings remind us that there are many ways to learn about and grow deeper in our relationship with God.
We can learn from teachers, each of whom has a different tincture to enrich the body of Christian teaching. Today, we meet a few of these very early teachers – Apollos, Priscilla, Aquila, and of course the Teaching Master, Jesus.
Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla
Apollos was a Jewish Christian from Alexandria, Egypt. He was brilliant, steeped in the knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. He was a compelling presenter and an exceptional logician. Luke tells us that Apollos had been instructed in the “Way of the Lord”. When he arrived in Ephesus, Apollos immediately began to “speak boldly” in the synagogue.
There was a problem though. Even though he knew the “Way” or the Gospel, Apollos hadn’t completed the whole course, so to speak. He knew only the baptism of John and not that of the Holy Spirit. So there were some gaps in his “curriculum”, gaps which were evident to two other excellent teachers – the husband and wife team of Priscilla and Aquila.
Priscilla was so kind. She took Apollos aside and quietly redirected some of his thinking. He must have been so grateful for her wise attention and gentle collegial wisdom. And Apollos deserves credit too. He was receptive to the fraternal correction, even that of a woman! Imagine!
This passage from Acts offers us so much food for thought. As we learn and share our faith and spiritual understanding, we must seek guiding input from well-grounded teachers. We should be willing to speak up when we hear the Gospel poorly interpreted or used inappropriately for the advancement of personal and political agendas.
Over the 2000-year evolution of Christianity, many suspect offshoots have arisen. In the early centuries, Christian teachers coped with various heresies which you may have studied in high school such as Arianism, Pantheism, Pelagianism, Gnosticism, etc.
In our modern world, major religions deal with such aberrations as the distortions of the “prosperity Gospel”, exaggerated fundamentalism, and abusive Sharia law.
In our Gospel, Jesus is clear that true faith resides in those who love him, and who love as He has loved. They live and teach in His Name. Without love like Christ’s at its core, any purported religious teaching is a mere shell of the true Gospel.
The hour is comingJohn 16:25-28
when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech,
but I will tell you clearly about the Father.
On that day you will ask in my name,
and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you.
For the Father himself loves you because you have loved me
and have come to believe that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world.
Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.
Prose: from Rabindranath Tagore
A teacher can never truly teach
unless he too continues to teach himself.
One lamp can never light another
unless it continues to burn its own flames.
Similarly, the teacher who has come
to the end of his subject,
and has no living traffic with his knowledge
but merely repeats his lessons to his students,
can only burden their minds,
he cannot inspire them.
Truth not only must inform
but also inspire;
if this inspiration dies out
and information merely keeps on accumulating,
then truth loses its infinity.
Music: Teach Us, Good Lord (The Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola – see below) – Music, David Ogden
Teach us, good Lord,
to serve you as you deserve;
to give, and not to count the cost,
to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labor, and not to ask for reward,
except that of knowing
that we are doing your will.