This is a copy-paste from an email a friend/teammate sent me. It is (very) long, but if you are someone like me who face challenges in working with others in a team or someone who is more comfortable working things out on your own, this article is also for you. Let us read and reflect on this.
18 October 2013, Friday, St Luke, Evangelist
BEING COLLABORATORS OF THE GOOD NEWS
SCRIPTURE READINGS: 2 TIM 4:10-17; LK 10:1-9
We are all called to be the evangelists of the Lord. We are called to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom. And indeed, we are happy to bring the Good News to everyone, but we want to do it alone. Being an evangelist is not so difficult if one is working on one’s own. The real difficulty lies not in not bringing the Good News to others but in working with others in the ministry. Indeed, many of us do not mind working alone. We prefer not to have confreres working with us because working with others is certainly not easy. Because when one works alone, one need not consult anyone nor compromise our vision nor attend long argumentative meetings.
But in today’s gospel, the invitation to be evangelists entails that we work as a team. Working alone is against the Spirit of the gospel. Be it the appointment of the twelve or the seventy-two disciples in today’s gospel, it is clear that Jesus wants us to do the work of evangelization as a team and in pairs. Consequently, it is clear that if we want to be true evangelizers of the Lord, then we must work as a team. Not surprisingly, today we speak of the importance of collaboration, of being Church.
Of course, we all know how difficult it is to work as a team. We all have our own ways of doing things and our own vision. Quite often, we cannot compromise or come to an agreement with our fellow colleagues or confreres. As a result, sometimes professional disagreements become personal differences as well. This is rather unfortunate. Difficult it may be, perhaps, if the Lord wants us to work as a team, it is in order that we might not get too proud and think that we know best. When we have others in the team, there would be some checks on what we do so that we would not be blinded by our own interests. Furthermore, if we are able to work as a team, then the Good News becomes even more credible as it shows the power of the Spirit at work in bringing us to work together in spite of our diverse views and personalities. In this way, we become a clearer sign of unity, which is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit.
Today when we celebrate the Feast of St Luke, we are certainly inspired by the way he collaborated with St Paul. In the first reading, we are told how St Luke was faithful to Paul until his death. He put the interests of Paul before his own ambition. We know from the Acts and from the letters of Paul that Luke followed him in his second and last missionary journey. He especially accompanied Paul in his last journey to Rome. Luke remained faithful to Paul and loyal to him. He even offered himself as a slave to attend to Paul when he was in prison so that he could nurse and look after Paul. In Paul’s letter to Philemon, Paul called Luke his fellow labourer in the vineyard. Thus, Luke was not only of personal service to Paul but was of great assistance in his mission as well. Paul was certainly fortunate to have Luke to work with him and collaborate with him. He was one person who never abandoned him.
Following his example, we too are called to collaborate with whoever is in charge of us or with whom we are placed to work together. We must trust in divine providence that we have been placed together for good reasons. There is something that the Lord wants us to learn from each other. By seeking to collaborate with our team members, we learn to put aside our personal interests before the bigger interests of the Church. There is certainly a purifying process in team work so that the Good News becomes purified. Most of all, God has a plan for us that through our collaboration with whoever is in charge of us, we will learn much that can be of great help to us in our future ministry.
This was what happened to Luke as well. It was because of his faithful service to Paul that he could experience for himself what he might not have experienced on his own. By following Paul, Luke encountered the Risen Lord in the communities that Paul visited. Although he never met Christ personally, he experienced his living presence in the communities as he described in the Acts. Such direct encounters with the living presence of Christ must certainly have inspired him in his composition of the gospel and the Acts. Furthermore, it must have been through St Paul that Luke came to know the person of Jesus.
It was through all these experiences that enabled Luke later on to write the gospel and the Acts. But if Luke could write about Jesus as the healer of a broken world, as seen in his ornamented stories of healings, it must have been his own eye witness, contacts and personal interviews with the Christians as mentioned in the beginning of the gospel of Luke. Through his journey with Paul too, he came to know Jesus as one who is concerned for the poor, the marginalized, the women and the outcasts. He summed up the mission of Jesus in chapter 4 of his gospel, which is a citation from Isaiah to proclaim the Good News to the poor. Yes, the faith of Luke came from his encounters with the Christian communities, real people and events based on facts. Through these encounters, he was able later to write a gospel truly for the Gentiles and portray Jesus really as the Good News in person.
Let us pray that through our collaboration with those in office, we too will one day on hindsight come to realize that what we learn will prepare us for our future missions. From collaborations too, we learn of our own limitations and learn to grow in humility and grace. Indeed, just like Luke, we might be called upon to share with others what we have gained in our personal experience in some ways in the future. We never know what the Lord has in store for us. What is important is that we learn to co-operate with others by working as much as possible as a team so that the gospel of love can be purified and preserved by the work of the Holy Spirit. Only then, can we claim to be true evangelists as the gospel we proclaim is no longer my own brand of the gospel but according to how the Holy Spirit inspires the Church.
WRITTEN BY THE MOST REV MSGR WILLIAM GOH
ARCHBISHOP OF SINGAPORE
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED