Today we honour the memory of Saint Martin of Tours. He was imprisoned as a young man for being a conscientious objector and refusing to join the Roman army. It’s interesting that his feast falls on the anniversary of Armistice Day. Martin became a monk in 360 and some have argued that Saint Martin – and not Saint Benedict – is really the founder of monasticism in the Western Church. In 372 Martin became bishop of Tours and he is honoured by the Church for his pastoral zeal. He died in 397 and today is the anniversary of his burial.
On this anniversary of Armistice Day we remember the sacrifice of those men and women of the armed services who gave their lives that we may live in security and peace. Let us also pray for those currently serving in the troubled areas of the world, that the Lord will protect them and bring them home safely
Long before there were church buildings, Christians met for prayer and Eucharistic celebrations in each other’s homes. Prisca and Aquila, close friends and co-workers of St. Paul’s, could always be counted on to host such gatherings. Even though religious persecution and evangelical zeal caused them to relocate often, they never stopped welcoming fellow believers into their home.
Given the patriarchal traditions of first-century Rome, it is interesting to see that Prisca’s name (or her nickname, Priscilla) always comes first when she and Aquila are mentioned in Scripture. It’s possible that she came from a family of higher social status. But it’s also possible that she had stronger leadership skills, and so was better known. Whatever the reason, this fascinating couple dedicated themselves to spreading the gospel, with Prisca playing a key role.
When Paul first met Prisca and Aquila, they were already believers and had begun helping others, like Apollos, grow in their faith (Acts 18:1-3). As gifted as he was, Paul knew he needed close friends to help him live the gospel that he preached, and this couple seemed to be a perfect match. Recognising them as like-minded in their love for the Lord and their commitment to building up the church, Paul became intimate friends with them. It didn’t hurt that they were tent-makers, just like himself —they were able to go into business together!
This heroic couple didn’t just want to have God in their lives; they wanted him to be at the centre of their lives. Their story is a great encouragement to us, telling us that we too can find close friends in our church. We can find great support and strength from other believers who are also seeking to place Jesus at the centre of their lives. Prisca and Aquila show us, also, that it’s not just the superheroes like Paul who are called to build the church. Look at all the other names Paul lists in today’s first reading, and you’ll see that each one had an impact on the people around them. There’s no reason why our names can’t be added to that list!