May 12, 2018
by John Shea, S.J.
Creighton University's Biology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 296

Acts 18:23-28
Psalms 47:2-3, 8-9, 10
John 16:23B-28

Daily Easter Prayer

Celebrating Easter Home

Prayers by and for Mothers

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Doubting Comes from
Being Out of Communion

Easter Joy in Everyday Life

We all get it wrong sometimes. Maybe we announced to our co-workers that this Friday was casual dress day‚Ķ and then found out that it was the following Friday. Or perhaps we promised to take our kids to the 7 pm showing of the latest Disney movie and then found out that the movie started at 6 pm. I know that as a teacher, I can’t count the number of times I handed out a course syllabus only to find it full of typos, wrong dates and misspelled words. We feel embarrassed, humiliated and, when we’re wrong in public, our authority suffers.

We don’t know what Apollos got wrong when he taught. We are told that he “spoke and taught accurately about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John.” Maybe he didn’t know all the events that happened after Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps he got a detail wrong about Jesus’ family life (“Mary, not Susan, was the mother of Jesus”). Or maybe he errored in regard to a moral precept (“Stealing from the Romans still violates the seventh commandment.”).

We do know that Priscilla and Aquila took him aside to explain the “Way of God more accurately.” We don't know what they said because they correct him privately. They avoid the embarrassment and humiliation of a public correction. By doing so, they preserve the teaching and preaching authority of Apollos. And where does his authority to preach come from?

When authority rests on a weak foundation, then it easily topples. Authority grounded in our own ego and power does not last long when we make mistakes. But our authority to spread the Good News, like Apollos’ authority, comes from God. In the Gospel, Jesus prays to the Father and tells us that whatever we ask in God’s name will be given to us. But the disciples do not pray in their own names, with their own power. They are praying with the power of Jesus, in his relationship to the Father. So long as we remain in Jesus and his words remain in us, then our prayers will conform with God’s will and commandments. Our authority to teach and preach is grounded in God, through Christ.

Yes, we’ll still make mistakes. We’ll still get it wrong sometimes. It happens. But with God’s grace and the support of our Christian brothers and sisters we can preach the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection. Like Paul, Apollos, Priscilla, Aquila and the early disciples, we can preach and teach with an authority that is solidly grounded in the risen Jesus.

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