Saturday, May 7, 2016


I was thinking this morning about the college student who was killed last week in his frat house down the block, apparently by a burglar. About him and about some incidents of violence and other crimes that have hit close to home the past couple of weeks. It could get really depressing. Then I started to prepare a homily on the first reading for this (Saturday) morning’s mass, where I found this passage from Acts 18:25:
Come in Apollos. Let's talk.

A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, an eloquent speaker, arrived in Ephesus. He was an authority on the scriptures. He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and, with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the Way (of God) more accurately.’”

Any guesses as to what Priscilla and Aquila may have wanted to talk to Apollos about when they took him aside? I think there’s a good hint in the first verse: “He knew only the baptism of John.” So, what was John preaching when he baptized people?”

“Repent! The kingdom is at hand. Reform your lives, improve your behavior!” Apollos only knew John’s message of moral improvement, of cleaning up your act, of getting better.

If my faith were based solely on striving for virtue, and rooting out vices and working hard at my salvation, the these murders and other crimes would be completely overwhelming. My efforts at moral improvement would simply crumble under the pressures of those horrors. This is where I suggest Priscilla and Aquila come to our rescue.

Priscilla and Aquila probably took Apollos home and explained to him that unlike the baptism of John, the central message of Jesus’ baptism wasn’t moral improvement but self-abandonment, letting go of yourself, your plans, your self-will, and following Christ to Calvary. We are baptised into Christ's death, so that we can also rise with him. We die with Christ, so that God can take over the center of our lives. This is not step-by-step moral improvement, but a radical giving yourself to Christ.

Jesus has conquered death, and has brought us along with him. This central belief of Christianity can stand up to any evil, even violent robberies and murders.

So, living in this neighborhood it’s a good idea to keep meditating on the cross and on its redeeming power.

Even if this isn’t what Priscilla and Aquila told Apollos, it seems like good Christian theology. Especially if you live on King Boulevard.

No comments:

Post a Comment