Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter
(Acts 18:9-18; John 16:20-23)
The passage from Acts today highlights two separate issues of importance. The first regards the dating of St. Paul’s stay in Corinth. From another source we know that the proconsul Gallio was in Corinth only in the years 51-52. Since he adjudicated the complaint by the Jews against Paul and Paul was there for a year and a half, his stay must have been coincided with at least in part with those years.
The other issue is more significant. Gallio, a government official, refuses to interfere in religious questions. Nineteen centuries later the Second Vatican Council advocated for a similar stance by governments toward religion. The council reasoned that religion is a matter of conscience which humans have to be free to follow. A government must allow people and, indeed, religious organizations to practice what they believe to be God’s will.
Currently freedom of religion is being contested over refusal to provide contraception as an employee insurance benefit. Some Catholic employers rightfully see providing such a benefit unconscionable. Can the government, which mandates insurance benefits, force them to do so anyway? Because the issue involves sexual behavior, logic is often set aside. However, it is, I believe, fair to say that since contraception is usually not necessary for a woman’s health, it could be dismissed as an insurance benefit in most cases. The matter in the United States is now waiting a Supreme Court judgment.