“We are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.” – 2 Cor. 1:24
These words of Saint Paul to the young Church growing in Corinth, Greece, inspire us to celebrate a joyful thanksgiving for the 25 years of our mission in Cebu, Philippines.
These words carry a powerful missionary spirit. A kind of ID card of anyone who wants to serve the great mission given to us by Christ: “make disciples of all nations”.
First of all, we can see that Paul acknowledges the gift of God already present in the community to whom he writes: “you stand firm in the faith”. Corinth was a very lively community, made of different kinds of people, full of charisms. But it was far from being a society of white angels with joined hands on their chests! In both letters to the Corinthians, we can see that moral issues were also troubling the community. To name only one, we remember that Paul was not happy that some members would eat and drink “as much as they can” during the celebration, while others were left hungry! However, Paul puts in light that the disciples “stand firm in the faith”, he knows that the Spirit is at work in this community. He knows that the issues are not the only reality, he knows that despite their imperfections, the newly converts have a strong faith! Paul is a missionary who knows how to see the gifts of God already present in the community he serves. This is a humble position, not of someone who comes to give and teach everything.
Then Paul considers himself as a “co-worker for your joy”. Isn’t it a beautiful description of what a minister is? Isn’t it what we all should be? Working for another’s joy! Working especially so that those who suffer, those who carry heavy burdens can find joy in the love of their brethren. Sure, that we will also receive great joys when we start working for others’ joy.
May this theme inspire all of us to follow the example of Paul, each one according to one’s vocation!