A Reflection on the Readings for Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
There are some things that I don’t like. I don’t like being woken up too quickly, being tailgated, lukewarm coffee , or the feel of cotton balls (yes my wife picks on me about this one). The thing I probably hate the most, though, is being corrected. There is nothing worse than the mental gymnastics that take place as I try to dodge the bullet of being, God forbid, wrong. This is why the first reading is so important to me today.
Today’s first reading portrays the graceful correction of Apollos. The way Luke tells the story, Apollos seems to accept the correction of Priscilla and Aquila without a bunch of maneuvering or pridefully trying to save face. I’m drawing this conclusion from the fact Luke doesn’t tell us much of anything about the exchange. The remarkable shortness of the incident seems to give evidence to the humility of Apollos. Couple that with the fact that he then receives full recommendation when he wants to travel to Achaia to preach the Gospel and I think we have a decent case for believing that Apollos took his correction pretty well. So, what does this absence of a big scene teach us about receiving correction? It teaches us to be attentive and to listen even if we are from a well-spring of knowledge like Alexandria. To listen even if we are “an eloquent speaker” or “an authority on the Scriptures” or “instructed in the Way of the Lord.” Put another way: no matter who you are, humility demands that sometimes you need to just shut up and listen.
Now, I want to be fair about all of this, before I get corrected. Some corrections are easier to receive than others. This approaches our final two points that are directed not at the corrected, but the corrector.
First Luke tells us that Pricilla and Aquila heard Apollos before they corrected him. This was firsthand exposure, not second hand or third hand rumor mill material. After hearing him, they took him aside. They didn’t make a scene or publicly rebuke him. The consideration they showed in personally hearing Apollos and then investing genuine one-on-one time with him must have carried a lot of weight.
Finally, their correction flowed into encouragement. After they corrected Apollos’ error they didn’t tell Achaia to watch out for him. No, they sent him with letters advising them to give Apollos welcome. This transitionary step between correction and encouragement can easily be missed, but I believe it can make a world of difference.
Lord, give us the grace and humility to accept correction. When we are called upon to correct our brothers and sisters, allow us to do it in humility and in imitation of Priscilla and Aquila with genuine encouragement.
– Spencer Hargadon
Originally Posted on May 16, 2015 at Ite Missa Est