St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Bible, Acts of the Apostles #17

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Chapter 21 starts with Paul bouncing around a little while people are more and more aware of his death (v4 & 9-12). The Jews in Jerusalem were plotting to have him killed. Paul’s response is unexpected. Paul says, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? I am prepared not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of our Lord Jesus” (v 13). His faith in Jesus and his purpose in dying drives him on.
He trusts in Jesus’ promise of eternal life. This is enough to inspire most Christians, but his love for Jesus that drives him to death is something that even many Christians would hesitate on. Most people would think Jesus is there to bring nothing but good things. Paul seems to be driven more by love than a promise of good things. He is driven by love to give his love to God by way of sacrifice, and nothing else will do. He looks forward to it, but it is a heroism that few would.
I noticed here a small detail as well. Luke, the writer of this book, is using the word “we.” Luke is present in all these events and so is giving first-hand accounts of these events. Actually, Luke has been with Paul for quite a while. If you noticed, the Acts of the Apostles covers Paul’s life since his conversion. The Acts of the Apostles offers a great summary of Paul’s Christian life. Actually, most of the Acts of the Apostles deals with Paul’s life once his conversion happens. There is good reason for this.
It ties in to the reason he is about to go through his persecution and what leads to his death. Paul gets arrested, but only after the Jews of Jerusalem try to kill him. Accusations are made against Paul about his handling of the Gentile converts. He does not demand circumcision or any of the other requirements of the law except for the eating of food dedicated to false gods. Paul is the one chosen by God to go and convert the Gentiles. It is through Paul that the rest of the world is called into the fold of the Christ, the anointed one. He is truly living out the call that Jesus gave to the Church He founded: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:18-19). Paul exemplifies the mission of the Church even to today.
Paul is driven for this purpose. He is accused of not doing as God commands (v21), but points to the higher command. He points to the unity that Jesus desires for us and only He can give (Eph 4:5). False accusations are given on this account (v 28 &29) but only as the old law had required. Even the Jews who believed did not recognize the authority that Jesus had regarding the law. They still do not see Jesus as God.
I am not sure what this means in Jewish understanding, but I noticed how when they take Paul out of the temple to kill him, the Bible says, “and immediately the gates were closed.” Sounds to me that God was not pleased. It would either mean that no admittance would be given, or the flow of His graces would now be shut. The riot that ensues is the commencement for the death of Paul in Rome. Paul’s death happened because he followed Jesus’ divine will. He exemplifies the Church’s mission to sacrifice and love. Ironically, Paul’s accusers echo Jesus’ death by yelling, “Away with him” (v 36). Paul’s mission, even in death, is united to Jesus.

Author: stjosephstmary

We are two Catholic Churches close to downtown Freeport, IL. Our communities are over 150 years old and have been dedicated to our lord Jesus Christ since our inception. We believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was concieved by the Holy Spirit, born of ythe Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

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