The influence of Paul in Christianity is based on his missionary journeys around the towns and cities adjoining the Mediterranean Sea. His name will always be remembered among Christians because he is a role model in spreading the gospel of Jesus to distant lands far from Jerusalem. In his early life, Paul was not a Christian himself, but his encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus to arrest 'believers in the way,' reformed him. He became an apostle specially appointed by Jesus to preach to the Gentiles. He had major missionary journeys mainly to people in the Hellenistic culture. The popular towns and cities Paul evangelized are Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Philippi, Thessaloniki, Rome, and others. Eventually he wrote letters to these locations instructing the new converts to stay firm in the faith. He produced many spiritual writings about the faith and sixteen enjoy a place in the bible.
With his great achievements in evangelization, many earlier Christian leaders began to suspect the faithfulness of Paul as a new convert. Many thought that he was against the spread of the Christian faith even after his conversion. He faced oppositions of all kinds. Due to this attitude against him, St. Paul resolved to write second letters to these divided communities with instructions about his work and keeping faith in Jesus who commissioned him.
In today's second reading, there are instructions to the Corinthians not to divide their loyalty among the missionaries that instructed them about the faith. Some believers claimed to be for Paul, others for Apollos, yet others for Cephas or Christ. Divisions in the Christian communities brought untold hardships. Again, lack of structure in administration opened a way for the enemy to come in and destroy.
The Prophet Isaiah preached about the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. These locations in history had seen distressful actions against the people. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone." These words were hopeful for a people who had seen enough to scare them away from their homes and render them refugees.
Yet, Isaiah prophesied that with time the Lord would heal their land and bring unity once again. The public ministry of Jesus around these towns brought the change that the people expected. Although between the Prophet Isaiah and the time of Jesus, many events happened, the turning point needed was a change of attitude. For this reason, Jesus began his ministry with these words, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." A new attitude brings positive life for the future.
In order to avoid divisions, people need to examine their attitude and change their negative approach to life. Producing the same results perpetuates a circle of war or hatred giving way to unproductive behaviors. In his early public ministry, Jesus assembled a core team of trusted men to promote his love in the world. He gave them a vision and a mission, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." These men transformed the history of the world in their little efforts to evangelize.
The message for all Christians is to remember that unity promotes the Body of Christ. Paul did not advocate division but rather oneness according to the example of Jesus. Unfortunately, those towns and cities in which Paul preached have either been lost to earthquakes or to the enemy of the faith. Working for Jesus means that all selfishness and hatred should be put aside to win souls for Jesus. The 12 apostles continued the work of Jesus and we presently have over 2.3 billion Christians, about 32% of the world's 7 billion people. Careful study of the dynamics in the world should spur us to unite to fight a common enemy as compared to fragmenting ourselves while the enemy takes over the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. If you don't stand for something, you will stand for nothing. Are you for Jesus or Apollos?BACK TO LIST