Saturday, November 07, 2009

Paul's circle

Our founder was deeply impressed with an aspect of St. Paul that seems to bypass the rest of us. Paul was a great networker! Far from being self-reliant (that wouldn't even square with his cultural upbringing), Paul knew how to work with others, and on his missionary journeys (which he never undertook alone), Paul looked for more people he could team up with. Nowhere is that more evident than in the conclusion of the letter to the Romans, where Paul names one person after another (28 in all!). Considering the size of the Christian community in Rome, Paul must have known close to 10 or 15% of them in person. But Paul does more than list them in a perfunctory way at the end of his letter. He gives each one a kind of extended "title" of recognition, highlighting some dimension of their Christian service. The most effusive recognition goes to two married couples: above all, Prisca and Aquila "my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I am grateful but also all the churches of the Gentiles."
This dynamic duo of the New Testament deserve a lot more attention than they have historically been given. That's not Paul's fault: he refers to them repeatedly in his letters, as Luke does in the Acts of the Apostles. Perhaps it was because Prisca, the wife, is almost always mentioned first, so Paul's advance team for the Gospel didn't fit into the usual categories.
It's time to rescue Prisca and Aquila from oblivion and make them the patrons of the lay apostolate!

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