Devotions for the week of: May 13, 2020
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well”. (NRSV)
In this short passage the Apostle Paul writes a brief recommendation for a woman called Phoebe. According to the Lutheran Study Bible, Phoebe is the one who will bring Paul’s letter to Rome, and she may be the one who is to read it aloud and interpret it in the midst of the assembly.
Phoebe lives in Cenchreae, one of Corinth’s two port cities. New Testament scholars assume that Phoebe is one of the decision-makers and ministers of the congregation. The term “benefactor” in the second verse, the Greek term for “patron,” indicates that Phoebe has helped many people through financial gifts or other means. This is an example of the important role women had in the early church.
I regard Phoebe as an icon of the appropriate response to God’s call. In the service of her Lord and Savior, she probably preferred poverty to wealth, simplicity to extravagance, praying to partying, and service to self-gratification. I imagine her spending her gifts and talents by serving the most vulnerable people in her time. By doing so, women like Phoebe became instruments of God’s grace and love. And, they became role models of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus for many generations to come.
By following these female footsteps, millions of Christians today regard themselves as stewards of the wealth and talents God has bestowed on them. They share generously with the poor, welcome the needy in their churches or lives and give them food, clothing or assistance of all kinds. By doing so they encountered the risen Lord by faithfully performing the duties of their Christian vocation and holy calling.
Rev. Dirk Hagmaier
Trinity Lutheran Church, Madison, SD
Question for reflection:
Where did you hear God’s voice to be a “benefactor” for others in the context of the church?
(Pope Francis, Message for World Day of Vocations, December 3, 2017)
Today the Lord continues to call others to follow him. We should not wait to be perfect, but open our hearts to the voice of the Lord. To listen to that voice, to discern our personal mission in the Church and the world, and at last to live it in the today that God gives us. Amen
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