7th Week of Easter
May 16, 2018Acts 20: 28-38
Don Bosco Cristo Rey, Takoma Park, Md.
Like some people Fr. Dennis knows, St. Paul could talk for a long time. What we hear in the 1st reading this morning began yesterday morning: Paul’s address to the elders of the church of Ephesus, whom he has summoned to meet him at Miletus on his “farewell tour” (20:17). He may well have sent also for the leaders of other nearby churches. That Ephesus was 30 miles away indicates Paul’s authority in the churches of Asia Minor, at least some of which he’d founded, as well as the esteem and affection in which the community held him, further stressed by their tears as he departs for the last time (20:37-38).
Statue of St. Paul
St. Peter's Square, Rome
Paul reminds the elders—whom he also calls “overseers”—episkopoi in Greek—of the main point of his preaching, namely that Jesus Christ redeemed the Church by his own blood (20:28). He reminds them further of their grave responsibility for God’s flock, entrusted to them not by Paul but by the Holy Spirit (20:28). And he warns them of the danger that will come from those who “pervert the truth to draw the disciples away after themselves” (20:30)
In our time, as in every age of the Church, terrible things happen when those with responsibility for the flock forget who is the true master of the flock, the true shepherd, and the price he paid for the flock’s salvation. The Church suffers terribly still when false teachers divide the Church. So Paul’s words remain timely, and they are addressed to us, whether we hold the office of elder—presbyter—or are teachers of the young: the young at DBCR or in our families. May we always be as vigilant, hardworking, self-sacrificing, and faithful to the Gospel as Paul and his co-workers were (20:31,33-35).