Share the Good News

I was on holiday last week, soaking up the sun on the Greek island of Samos in the Aegean Sea. We went to Turkey on a day trip to visit the amazing ruins of Ephesus. Samos is only about 27 miles from the port of Kusadasi and then a short minibus ride to this UNESCO world heritage site. As we mingled with hundreds of other tourists walking through the streets and shops I realised that it was in this city that St. Paul visited several times.

He stayed here for three and a half years on his third missionary journey. In AD 56 his preaching started a riot because the silversmith Demetrius and others, who made a living by selling and making silver statues of the Mother Goddess Artemis were upset. The silversmith said to the crowds that gathered: “you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshipped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” We stood in the great Amphitheatre where the crowd chanted “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”. St Paul wanted to face the crowd, but the disciples didn’t let him. Finally, the city clerk calmed down the crowd. Probably St. Paul was jailed in Ephesus for a while before he departed North.

Through Paul’s efforts, Ephesus became the third most important city of Christianity after Jerusalem and Antioch. At the end of our visit we boarded the small boat to return to Samos. A journey that should have taken an hour and a quarter took two hours because of the strong winds and rough sea. While we were tossed backwards and forwards on our small boat I recalled the many sea journeys Paul fearlessly undertook as the Spirit led him to share the Good News with the pagans.

In today’s gospel, Jesus sends 72 others to those places he himself was to visit. He commanded them to say “The kingdom of God is very near to you, to cure those who are sick.” Like St Paul at Ephesus, we need to take seriously the command given to us to share the Good News and bring about healing.

Let us not let the apathy of this present time dampen the Spirit within us calling us to share the truth of Christ.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest