|The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter VI: ”The Proof of a True Lover” (third entry)
This chapter has Christ speaking much about the wiles of the devil and what a true disciple needs to do to combat the machinations of the evil one. A firm resolution to do the good is a gift of the Holy Spirit called fortitude. Whether reactive to temptation or proactive toward evangelization, we must be mindful of our duty toward God and neighbor.
|Today’s First Reading, Acts 18:23-28
Today’s first reading offers a little side note to Paul’s ministry. An Alexandrian Jew named Apollos is “speak[ing] boldly in the synagogue” about Jesus in Ephesus. Paul has already left, but apparently his companions, spouses Priscilla and Aquila, have remained behind there. They fill in some gaps for Apollos by “tak[ing] him aside and explain[ing] to him the Way (of God) more accurately.” He must have been grateful for this instruction as he immediately wishes to share the entirety of the Good News in Achaia which encompassed Athens and Corinth. There he contested with the Jewish religious class while preaching to the public “establishing from the scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.”
Apollos was not going to let the push back he was receiving from the Jews dim in the slightest his resolution to preach the fullness of truth he had just received from Paul’s companions. One can imagine the Jews trolling (as we say these days) this newcomer as he attempts to catechize and evangelize this populace. He knew the people well as he also was a Greek. Undoubtedly the more persuasive he was, the more the professional religious crowd grew irritated and demonstrative. The devil certainly had reason to be concerned about the wild success this new movement was having. Thus, the attacks on Apollos, just as Peter, Paul, and the other apostles had experienced, are no surprise. Fortitude in the face of the temptation to be uncharitable or to quit were needed then as now. Where does the power to combat this lie? In the Word. The Christ is Jesus. All of Scripture speaks of the coming of the Messiah (remember the apostolic Christians only had the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament). We, too, should have recourse to Scripture and Tradition (the entirely of divine revelation, which is the Word, that is, Jesus) to stand firm in the truth and refute those who would lead others astray. Know it well!
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16)