Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Saints also disagreed among themselves and holiness does not imply not making mistakes, but rather is one’s capacity to convert and repent, to start all over, as the lives of some of Saint Paul’s collaborators show, i.e. people who devoted their lives to spreading the Gospel.
Before 6,000 people gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the general audience, the Pope today spoke of the behaviour of Saint Paul’s companions, especially Barnabas, Silvanus and Apollos, who devoted themselves to evangelisation.
Benedict XVI stressed first of all that all three were part of a wider group. “The apostle is open to collaboration; he does not try to do everything alone but relies of several helpers,” including women like Phoebe and Prisca. Among these the Pope focused on three, who played a particularly significant role in evangelisation.
The Pope said that Barnabas was one of the first Christians who dedicated himself to evangelisation in Tarsus and Antioch and almost “returned” Paul to the Church. He went on mission with the apostle for what came to be known as the first missionary trip of the apostle of the peoples.
“They were together at the so-called Council of Jerusalem, where the apostles decided to separate circumcision from the Christian identity”, thus opening the Church to the pagans.
Paul and Barnabas “quarrelled however during their second missionary trip” over which comrade to bring along.
For Benedict XVI this shows that “even among the saints there were disagreements” and this is “comforting”.
“Holiness does not come from the capacity of not making mistakes;” instead, it grows from “the capacity to convert and repent, to start all over. [. . .] The capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness makes us saints,” he repeated
Silvanus o Silas was “a Jew from Jerusalem.” Seen as a possible mediator between Jerusalem and Antioch, between Christians of Jewish origin and others, he went on mission to Corinth. Co-sender of the Letter to the Thessalonians, he is also mentioned in the first letter to Peter—“I write you this briefly through Silvanus” worked together and that the “Church is one”.
Apollos, probably Apollonius, is especially linked to the evangelisation of Ephesus and later Corinth where, according to Luke, he was very useful to those who had become believers, showing through the scriptures that Jesus was the messiah.
Apollos’ life is “problematic” because some members of the Church opposed others in his name, forcing Paul to intervene expressing appreciation for Apollos, but not for the Corinthians whom he accused of tearing the body of Christ.
Some also believe Apollos is the author of the Letter to the Hebrews.
All three have “in common their Jewish origin, their devotion to Jesus and the Gospel, and the fact that all three collaborated with the apostle Paul.”
“All three found the meaning of life in the evangelising mission” and stand before us as luminous examples.