This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church
Reading 1, Acts 18:23-28
24 An Alexandrian Jew named Apollos now arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, with a sound knowledge of the scriptures, and yet, 25 though he had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual fervour and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had experienced only the baptism of John.
26 He began to teach fearlessly in the synagogue and, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they attached themselves to him and gave him more detailed instruction about the Way. 27 When Apollos thought of crossing over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote asking the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived there he was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably 28 by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
In all probability Luke’s sources told him that Apollos was a very popular and successful missionary in Asia. Luke wants to concentrate on Paul as his hero, and therefore sidelines Apollos. In his letters Paul himself is careful to acknowledge Apollos, who may have been the founder of the Ephesian Church. It’s of interest that Apollos came from Alexandria, the implication being that the Christian message had taken root there.
The issue of whether Jesus was the Jewish Messiah is one that requires an effort of understanding, at least from this Scottish believer. Why does it matter? It mattered to the first Christians, because as Jewish believers they wanted to insist that Jesus was the culmination and not the contradiction of their ancestral faith. Only in John’s gospel, however, does Jesus use the title of himself, and we may suspect that claiming it was not a matter of importance, to one who stood to the side of all the titles of his tradition.
From the application of this title to Jesus the church has gained its sense of continuity with Judaism, its adoption of the Jewish bible as part of its own, and a political edge which is inseparable from the concept of the “anointed king”.
Gospel, John 16:23b-28
23 When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions. In all truth I tell you, anything you ask from the Father he will grant in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete. 25 I have been telling you these things in veiled language. The hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in veiled language but tell you about the Father in plain words. 26 When that day comes you will ask in my name; and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you, 27 because the Father himself loves you for loving me, and believing that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world and now I am leaving the world to go to the Father.’
The purpose of Jesus’ mission is that his disciples will take his place “before God” and “ask in his name” that is, share his relationship with God. This is an antidote to all “precious Jesus help me” postures of exaggerated weakness before Christ. He wanted his disciples to be strong in his name, which doesn’t mean saying the name, but in Paul’s language, “putting on the Messiah.”