New International Version
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.
So many of Paul’s letters reference his fellow workers – sometimes the only thing we know about these people are their names. Others, like Timothy in yesterday’s reading, have much more written to them and of them. This acknowledgement of his fellow workers is a credit to Paul and to the individuals he mentions. The gospel spreads around the world as those who follow Christ work together. It is how it first spread and how it still spreads. Yet there is another truth implicit in this scripture: God works through people; people who get sick and some who get sick and die. People who are separated by distance or circumstance and yet who care for one another deeply. People who come and go in our lives but are always kept in Jesus. God continues to work that way today. So may we show the same kind of concern and compassion for one another that Paul demonstrates in his letters, may we acknowledge the contribution of each member no matter how big or small and may we continue to trust in God’s mercy.