Friday, May 6, 2016

Multicultural Church

In today's first reading we hear the story of Apollos. He is one of many beyond they 12 and Paul who preached the gospel but is not often talked about. In the Catholic Church in the US we talk about multicultural churches as if it were a new phenomenon. We forget that the Church has been multicultural from her beginning. 

Apollos is the perfect example We are told he is a Jew. He is an Egyptian, a native of Alexandria. But his parents gave him a Greek name, Apollos. So we have a Greek-Egytptian Jew. Is that multi-ethnic enough? 

He would have been proud of both his Jewish heritage, and of being from Alexandria, a great center of learning. The story tells us he was an authority on the scriptures, the Old Testament as we call it today. The Greek translation of the Old Testament we call the Septuagent was created for inclusion in the Great Library of Alexandria at least two centuries before Jesus. Surely this would have the Scripture known to him. 

Often in the New Testament we will see Jews called by two names: a Semitic name from their Jewish roots, and also a Greek names that allows them to blend into the dominant culture. Much like when a José Gonzalez, goes by Joe.  And notice Latin is no where in the mix, it will not become the dominant language of the Empire or the Church for a while. 

I believe it was no accident that Jesus became incarnate and established his Church where he did. Jesus's command at the end of Matthew's gospel to "to out and teach all nations" was facilitated by location of the early Church around the Mediterranean. 

Multicultural Church is anything but new. It was the Church in the beginning. It is why we call ourselves Catholic.