When Paul met Timothy
On one level, today’s selection from the book of Acts (16:1-10) is something of a travelogue: Saint Paul goes to this place and that place and this other place and so forth and so on.
But in these ten verses we find much more than just a checklist of place names, just as the book of Acts is more than just a series of miracle stories and apostolic sermons: it tells of real people in real places struggling with real issues.
A very special thing about these ten verses are two personal relationships that we see begin here.
In the very first verse of this passage, Paul meets Timothy: the young man who would be his most famous protégé (and also one of his closest collaborators and friends).
In the very last verse of this passage, the narration suddenly and without explanation starts using a very simple but important word: “we” instead of “they”.
...they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.
During the night Paul had a vision....
When he had seen the vision,
we sought passage to Macedonia at once,
concluding that God had called us
to proclaim the Good News to them.
The explanation for this sudden use of the word “we” is that it was at this point that Paul met Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, and that Luke began working and travelling with Paul and Timothy (and possibly others).
Luke is too humble to draw any attention to himself by saying something like “and it was there that Paul met me,” but he is also too honest to write about what happened as if he were not a part of it.
Yet Saint Luke would prove to be one of Saint Paul’s most important collaborators, if only because Luke would be the one to set down so many of Saint Paul’s deeds and words in this very book and because he would also bring together elements of Saint Paul’s preaching with other sources to write the Gospel that bears Saint Luke’s name: one of the four canonical Gospels of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Indeed, so many wonderful things followed after the two personal encounters in these ten verses.
We should keep this in mind as you and I go through all of our activities and errands this weekend: keeping ourselves open to the discernment and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, because we never know when a particular personal encounter may be a powerful occasion for the work of God.