The Catholic Defender: Co-workers with the Apostles
When I think of co-workers with the Apostles the greatest examples of them are found in the New Testament beginning largely with St. Paul. St Paul wrote, " For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it."
St. Paul would have great importance in the earliest times of the Church, having at least two of his Co-workers become eventual successors of St. Peter:
"Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren." (2 Timothy 4:21) St. Linus would become the first successor of St. Peter!
"And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." (Philippians 4:3) St. Clement would become the third successor of St. Peter!
There were a number of bishops who were also co-workers with St. Paul, two of them were written to by St. Paul:
"Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:6) and "Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you." (1 Timothy 4:13-14)
Along with St. Timothy, St. Titus was also a co-worker with St. Paul that is also a letter in the New Testament: "To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you," (Titus 1:4-5)
Along with the above there are listed a number of individuals recorded to be co-workers with St. Paul:
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchre-ae, that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks; greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, eminent in the Lord, also his mother and mine. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brethren who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them." (Romans 16:1-15)
Editors Note: Sister Phoebe is refereed to as a deaconess from Cenchre-ae? This would most likely be a reference to her household. This is the only place in scripture where a woman is given two distinctions, a deaconess as well as a helper and patron of many helping St. Paul. Phoebe was sent as an emissary of Paul's to the church in Rome. Because the people in Rome knew her not, Paul wanted to give her his credentials as she was trusted by Paul to deliver his letter to the Romans.
This is why it is important to have that constant foundation of the Catholic Church that maintains the truth in front of, behind, within or all around in any scriptural text. St. Paul using the original Greek (διάκονος) which is important to make this distinction. St. Paul used the same word designating to mean one who serves as an overseer or bishop, but also meaning to refer to a person as a servant in a general sense. So Sister Phoebe was a co-worker of St. Paul's whom he entrusted to take the Book of Romans to the Church of Rome. She was not an ordained cleric as was Timothy and Titus.
There were nearly 100 other co-workers of St. Paul listed in the New Testament. One of my favorites is little known but I like to identify with, Onesiphorus:
"May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me-- may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day--and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus."
To have helped St. Paul in his distress and to have his intercession means volumes. Recently I have been accepted to be a "Co-worker" with Archbishop Joseph Fred Naumann through the Archdioceses of Kansas where my Wife Gigi and I have moved. I met him for the first time this past weekend at Divine Mercy Parish in Gardner Kansas.
The Catholic Church is a 2,000 year continuum placing today's Church leaders, the ordained bishops, priests, and deacons in union with the Bishop of Rome to be the true successors of the Apostles through Apostolic Succession. By virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, we are all "Co-workers" with the Apostles through their successors. There is much responsibility and great need for the household of faith that the Lord seeks to do His will.
"So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."
Here are the lyrics to the song I am placing at the end of this article:
I feel it every morning As I rise Sometimes without warning And sometimes in disguise It never leaves me feeling Like I've had enough It's my sin with which I'm dealing It knows just how to bluff Full of pride and self You know, I'm needing Someone else
To help me fight back Jesus, help me fight back Fight back Defeat it, help me fight back It makes me live alone I'd break this iron fence through But I ache until I've grown Although I face this failure Although I often lose I'll depend upon the Savior His mercy I will choose To help me fight back Jesus, help me fight back Fight back Defeat it, help me fight back Full of pride and self I'm needing Someone else
Here are some good examples: