Today’s reading: Col 4
Today’s reading seems to be just a closing list of goodbyes but, if we look closely, we can glean some important information.
First, notice that while Paul is introducing the people he has been working with and giving their accomplishments, he is doing so for a reason. He wants the Colossians, whom he has never met, to know that these men are faithful to the Gospel and to the Church. Paul is personally attesting to their credibility and their prior actions, not just so that the Colossians will welcome them, but will accept them as those with authority to teach the Gospel. We do not know if any of these men were in fact ordained but we can safely assume that Paul is giving their pedigree, not just to show his gratitude, but to establish that they are not among the false teachers that caused Paul to write to the Colossians in the first place.
Second, I really like Paul’s statement, in which he says,
Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. Colossians 4:5-6
Paul is telling us to be attentive and listen to every person we encounter. We should speak kindly to them and be interested in them as a person. We should “scratch each person” where they itch and tailor our message to their questions/issues. How many modern-day communication gurus have preached “active listening”? Here is Paul giving this practical advice two-thousand years ago. This is a key aspect to accomplishing many of the things Paul talked about in the previous chapters. If we want to be holy, we need to put others first. If we want to be compassionate, we need to listen and empathize. If we want to be kind, we need to respond with gentleness. If we want to be meek, we need to care about them and their story. Listening, communication and kindness are how we will make friends, allies and ultimately converts of the world.
Tomorrow: Phil 1