The first reading today introduces Apollos, an educated Jew from Alexandria in Egypt. From all that Apollos had heard of Jesus, he recognized him as the true Messiah; so that even before he was baptized, Apolllos was encouraging people to follow Jesus.
As highly cultured as Paul was, Apollos outdid him in eloquence. That won many of Paul’s followers over to him. In his Letter to the Corinthians Paul scolded both those who identified with him and those who identified with Apollos. In telling them their loyalty should all go to the Lord, Paul wrote this memorable sentence:
“I planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who gave the increase.”
Paul’s statement could not have been more true; and yet we might suspect that Paul was human enough to resent losing followers to Apollos. Paul had to control his jealojsy.
Every person who lives has a problem with jealousy. I cannot answer for anyone else, but I know I am no stranger to it. There are many older and younger priests who arouse in me no feelings of jealousy. Still, the mention of some others has me pulling out a mental yardstick to gage how we measure up against each other.
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that school teachers, young brides, teammates and others comparable individuals have similar problems. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that some confrontations have them pulling out that mental yardstick, forcing them to stand on tiptoes to look taller.
One of my favorite Scripture verses has Paul asking, “What have you that you haven’t received? And if you have received why do you glory as though you hadn’t?”
If you haven’t the next guy’s looks or brains, but you still make a go of it, you are the winner.