Acts 18:1-8 or Acts 1:1-11
There is a married couple who feature in today’s first reading, Aquila and Priscilla. They were a Jewish Christian couple who had recently come from Rome to Corinth, and when Paul came to preach the gospel for the first time in Corinth, he stayed in their accommodation.
They were tentmakers like himself. Paul’s letters reveal that this married couple hosted a church in their house in Ephesus and later in Rome. They provided the space for believers in these two cities to gather for prayer, for Eucharist, for sharing together. They were clearly an important presence in the early church.
They were generous in sharing their resources with other believers and were clearly great support to Paul. Paul says of them in his letter to the Romans, ‘they work with me in Christ Jesus, and… risked their necks for my life’. Even the great apostle to the Gentiles needed the support of believers like Aquila and Priscilla.
In the gospel reading, we find Jesus supporting his disciples. He is speaking in the setting of the last supper. Knowing that he is facing into his own death, which will impact gravely on his disciples, he says to them, ‘you will be weeping and wailing’.Yet, at this moment when he is at his most vulnerable, he seeks to support and encourage his disciples, saying to them, ‘your sorrow will turn to joy’, and ‘you will see me again’.
What Jesus does for his disciples in the gospel reading, the married couple does for Paul in the first reading. We have here an image of what the church is called to be. We are to be a community of believers who support one another in the faith and encourage one another when times are difficult.
The ministry of encouragement and building up of each other is a vital ministry in the church, especially in these difficult times, and it is a ministry in which we all share, whether we are male or female, young or old, single or married. It is a ministry that the Holy Spirit will always be moving us to undertake.
He is the great consoler and comforter, and he inspires and empowers us to be a consoling and comforting presence to one another. Amen
Fr. John Peter