As we reach the end of the Letter to the Romans, we find a list of characters that is significantly long. Paul mentions both men and women who have been part of the evangelizing effort. Paul did not run a one-person show but believed in team ministry and endorsed the talents and the vocation of others to preach the Gospel. Here where Paul concludes his most elaborate, theological explanation of the Gospel, he links with himself this large assembly of men and women.
The inclusion of this list poses significant questions. At first glance we may think that it is nothing more than a recitation of names of people whom Paul has known. However, we may ask ourselves as we read this passage if we call attention to our co-workers and give them proper recognition in the presence of others? Do we win for them the appreciation of all the church, the way that Paul writes: “Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.”
Ultimately – and always – to God the Father “be the glory given through Jesus Christ unto endless ages.” These final words in the long epistle to the Romans reunite all the apostles and co-workers, so that they and their accomplishments return to their source, gloriously and happily. Ultimately, we are all God’s co-workers in the realm of God. We are all involved in reaping the harvest. The fields, we have been told, are ripe for harvest. The workers in God’s fields and vineyards are commissioned to work together for the coming of God’s kingdom. Unlike the Pharisees who sneer at Jesus in the Gospel today, we are the Body of Christ and work for profit which reflects God’s glory, not our own.
In this we take our example from the Lord Jesus who lived and died among us not for his own glory but for the glory of God. As we celebrate once again the Paschal Mystery, we recommit ourselves to God’s realm and God’s people.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator