In our first reading this morning we meet an interesting married couple, Priscilla and Aquila. In today’s reading they clearly had a well-established reputation for being experts on the early Christian beliefs about Jesus. An already famous preacher named Apollos comes to town and does an amazing job of preaching the Gospel. However, it seems he is only aware of the baptism of John the Baptist and not that of the baptism Jesus gave the community. So, it is members of that Community, Priscilla and Aquila, who take him aside and teach him about the baptism that Jesus taught. Apollos seems to welcome their teachings and then continues on his apostolic way.
This early Christian couple appear in several places in the Acts of the Apostles as well as in Romans, First Corinthians and Second Timothy. They apparently were tentmakers who fled from Rome to Corinth when Claudius Caesar forced all the Christians out of Rome. In Corinth they hooked up with Paul the Apostle, another tentmaker(!), who refers to them as his “co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus” (Romans 16:3). Every time they are mentioned in the New Testament they are spoken of as important and influential leaders in the Christian Community and authentic witnesses to the Gospel.
Priscilla and Aquila remind us that it wasn’t just the “big time” Apostles like Peter, Paul, Apollos and the other Apostles and Evangelists mentioned in the New Testament who were important to the building up of the Christian Community. From the very earliest days of the Community, Priscilla and Aquila along with so many other ordinary people, often not mentioned by name, were the bedrock of the proclamation and spread of the Gospel.
The same is true in the Church today. There are those who are well known as preachers of the Gospel, for example, Our Holy Father, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons and other public faith leaders. But the truth is that it is the people in the pews, men and women, married and single, young and old, who have a living relationship with Christ and are faithful to Him, who are the most authentic and effective witnesses to Christ living amongst us. It is their love for God, their families and the many other people in their lives that witness to God’s loving presence among us.
In truth, each of us is called to live in faith. And, as we are able to grow in our ability to love those around us, Christ is made present. Today we pray that we can cherish our own personal call to proclaim the Good News that God embraces us and our world through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of retreats at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.