Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter
The activity of the Apostle
After this he [Paul] left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. He went to visit them and, because he practiced the same trade, stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. Every sabbath, he entered into discussions in the synagogue, attempting to convince both Jews and Greeks. Acts 18,1-4
After listening, in the yesterday reading, the speech of Paul at the Areopagus of Athens, on which is not known whether to admire most the theological and philosophical depth or the rhetoric ability, today we find Paul in Corinth, where, to earn his daily bread, he performs the manual labour of the manufacturer of tents. When I began to approach the Holy Scriptures, this working activity surprised me a bit: I would have expected from him an intellectual profession, by which he could have produced positive results via the culture and the talents which the nature and the Lord gave to him. Subsequently, being the time elapsed and familiarizing myself a bit with the person of Paul, I think to have understood the reasons of this activity. The real work of Paul, since he put him to a complete service of the annunciation of the gospel, has always been the apostle of the people, where he has spent his entire commitment, his culture and his doctrine. This mission led him to travel, to move continuously and to establish christian communities, from which he could also have been maintained, but, by his own admission, the fact of arranging for the cost of his life by himself has always been a source of pride for him. However, both in order to reconcile the work with the apostolic trips as well as due to reasons of freedom in the advertisement of the gospel, he only exerted the activity of tents manufacturer, which is not bound by the local conditions, nor by the political power, which often affects the representatives of the culture. These are crucial lifestyle choices for the christians of every time. From one point of view, it is good to rise as high as possible in the profession and in the social scale, because, from a higher position you can work in the christian way over a wider area, as Monsignor Morini, rector of the seminary of Fiesole, taught us when we were still engaged. The professional and social career, however, must have a clear limit: the one between the freedom and the compromise. The christian, in his activities, must keep himself absolutely free: if he collapses one time it is the end, because then, from one compromise to another, he sells his freedom and he stops to be a witness of the gospel. One day the president of a company, for which I worked, said to me: “You could have a good career, but unfortunately there are some things which we cannot ask to you”. “Thank you – I said – do not ask me”. But when he needed a free and frank opinion, he was relating to me.