To better appreciate our reading from Acts you should realize that Corinth was the capital of the Roman province of Achaia. The glory days of Athens are long past. Corinth sat on a long narrow strip of land that connects northern modern Greece to southern Greece. If you were travelling east to west by ship from Italy to Asia Minor you could save many days of sailing around Greece by going to Corinth, unloading your cargo, and transferring it across the narrow peninsula to another ship. Corinth was a cosmopolitan commercial hub of the Roman Empire.
Paul settled here for a year and a half. Paul’s two letters to this community give us give us a flavor of the early church and the challenge in establishing the gospel in a pagan and gentile environment. In this passage we see Paul protected by Roman law and justice as the governor, Gallio, dismisses charges against him brought by the Jews.
Paul finishes his second missionary trip and sets sail for Antioch in Syria. It is for us to admire the energy, courage and persistence of Paul in preaching the gospel. We need to recall that our baptism gives us the same Spirit that inspired Paul to witness to Christ. Each Mass ends with the command to go out, to go forth and to live Eucharist in our daily lives. Pope Francis exhorts us not to hug our faith to ourselves, but to share it. We are all missionaries.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.