Blinkers for a cause- Thursday, 6th Week in Easter- Acts 18:1-8
Paul arrives in the Greek city of Corinth after a rather lukewarm response in Athens. It is here (verse eleven) that he will spend the next one and half year ministering to the Corinthians. Sometimes the ministry of a year and a half spans just seventeen verses as it does in this chapter and hence we look at 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 to understand the challenges that this mission field faced.
Paul is joined by his companions Silas and Timothy who have joined him after the persecutions broke out in Beroea. His mission is also greatly strengthened by his acquaintance with a couple who have had to flee Rome due to the expulsion of Jews by the Emperor Claudius.
Aquila and his wife Priscilla will then go on, not only become Paul’s business partners, for they shared the same trade of making tents ( verse 3) but will also become his lifelong friends. We see that Paul sends his regards to this couple in two different letters that he will later write.
Paul’s trade is not to be trivialised as some childish pastime. Tent s were important to those who lived in this part of the world and one can safely say that Paul was in the ‘real estate business’. In another letter he will use the analogy of trading in a tent for a permanent structure in reference to the reality of death.
However, Paul’s trade does not distract him from his principal mission and that is to proclaim the word of God (verse5) a task that mostly met with stiff opposition or indifference. The Corinthian community was a challenge for Paul both internally and externally. As we will read, the external challenges were predictable; persecution, accusations, beatings and false trials. But from 1 Corinthians we also know that on departing Corinth, the community began to greatly disagree with one another on practically every issue from Baptism to leadership.
What stands out in the second missionary journey of Paul, which sees him travel largely through Greece, is his resilience in not accepting defeat. His mission is no peaches and roses yet he never gives up. When the doors of the synagogue were closed to him in Corinth he simply went next door; in this case literally. An official of the synagogue who lived next door to the Synagogue and was a believer in the Lord, now receives baptism with his entire household.
Paul did not suffer fools easily yet he exercised great love and restraint when it came to mission; for this cause he willingly bore much. For those involved in ministry in the Church, the example of Paul shines forth. We will not always have a perfect parish, association or collaborators. Many within our own institutions may betray us or be downright jealous of what we do. In moments like this remember Paul! He fixed his eyes on Jesus.
Many years ago when I was struggling with a rather difficult parish priest, I was presented with this thought by the Lord. Whose eyes are your eyes fixed on, the troublesome parish priest or on me (Jesus)? The course correction being made in my life, I resolved the pain and hurt even though the problem persisted. Being a Christian does not mean your problems disappear, being a Christian means you can cast your burdens on Christ who died to set us free.
Fr Warner D’Souza