St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Bible: Acts of the Apostles #14

In Chapter 18, Paul moves on from Athens and ends in Corinth. He later wrote two letters to the Corinthians that are in the Bible, but now he is describing his first meeting with them. Here, he also meets Aquila and Priscilla and we learn that both Paul and Aquila are tentmakers by trade (v3). That is how they make their money. This is also the same Aquila and Priscilla that are depicted in the recent movie “Paul, the Apostle of Christ.” In this biblical account, Aquila and Priscilla have to move out of Rome, insinuating that they were living in Rome at the time. The movie depicts that they would have moved back into Rome to help the Christians there and to serve God. Continue reading


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Bible: Acts of the Apostles #12

As Paul and Timothy were singing and praying in the jail, there came an earthquake that jarred the doors and chains loose (Acts 16:26). The guard was about to kill himself when Paul told him not to. Sounds like a strange thing on two accounts: first, why would a guard try killing himself; and second, Paul was comforting the guard.
I will start with the second issue, Paul comforting the guard. It illustrates for us Paul’s love for the guard. He is being detained for evil purposes. But this does not hinder Paul’s concern for the well-being of the guard. This leads us to the next issue.
On the first issue, Roman guards were killed if they found their captors gone. It would be a disgrace to them and their families if anybody got loose. It would be a torturous death at that. So many would kill themselves rather than go through that. It actually became more honorable to kill yourself. This man was as good as dead. But then he asks, “What must I do to be saved?” (verse30).
Notice Paul’s response. Paul says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The first thing we need to do is believe in the Lord Jesus.
So the first thing the Apostles need to do is preach the Gospel message. Without the Gospel message, we would never know what to believe. Notice also that they do not give them a bible, but rather speak the words to them that Jesus himself taught and did. Because of their preaching, they want to be baptized (v33). Such a great interaction comes here. They are baptized. The guard and his whole household.
Now imagine this: the guard was going to kill himself. He was as good as dead. Paul brings him back to his house alive. How grateful the whole household must have been. That guard was probably the sole means of making money. That one life affected many other people. Before the baptism, they washed Paul and Silas’ wounds. They feel the need to make things right. They are willing to accept the responsibility for what has happened to them. Then Paul baptizes them. Since the whole household was baptized, it is traditionally assumed that babies were baptized with them. All the people in the house accept Jesus in their lives that day by virtue of their baptism.
Only after the baptism do they celebrate. Why? It seems that they would have accepted Jesus in their lives before they were baptized. What makes them feel the need to be baptized? We see this constantly in the Acts of the Apostles. Only after the baptism is there any mention of “joy” and “newfound faith” (v34). Something very real has happened. Only after the baptism do we find the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the theological virtues. They are changed from within. True and lasting happiness enters into their lives.
The overview of this baptism is that they preach to them and then they get baptized. The preaching must happen first because the preaching explains why you would want to be baptized. It is the faith that inspires a person to want to be baptized, so the faith leads to baptism. Baptism makes you Children of God and the offering of eternal life gives hope, even in suffering.
So are Paul and Silas released from jail? No. Paul goes and baptizes the whole household of the guard who beat them, and Paul does not assume that he will be released. He knows that if he is gone, the guard would still be killed. Paul loves the guard and his household and does not want them to perish. He voluntarily goes back to the jail.


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Bible: Acts of the Apostles 5

Chapter Ten of the Acts of the Apostles has something very different happening. A centurion is being called by God. Before then, He called mostly Jews. He was a man named Cornelius, a Roman centurion. A couple of times the Bible refers to him as being “God fearing”. This is a lay man’s title for those who are not Jewish, but honor the Jewish religion. They pray to god and even are known to give substantial contributions for the Temple or the Jewish community. Peter is called to go and evangelize him and his household. Peter is instructed to eat profaned meat (v12-14). Peter first refuses because of the type of meat that is set out in his vision. But God has him come to Cornelius’ house and eat. Continue reading


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Acts of the Apostles 4

Chapter Eight of the Acts of the Apostles contains the story of the apostle Phillip who converts the Eunuch from Ethiopia. What is a eunuch? A eunuch is one who is castrated because they are to serve the queen. They are men who dedicate their lives to serve the queen of any given country. This eunuch serves the Queen of Ethiopia. Eunuchs are typically very smart and well read. They serve as a sort of ambassador for the queen. They can handle all the money or property, be a legal consultant, or do other tasks that require complete trust. This particular man is in charge of the entire treasury of the queen (8:27). Notice, this eunuch is well read because he is, in fact, reading (8:28). Continue reading


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Novena to the Holy Spirit Begins Today

We begin the Novena to the Holy Spirit asking for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Novena will be leading up to Pentecost Sunday, which is the day the Apostles were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowered the Apostles to preach the Good News, to heal physical ailments, to raise the dead and to baptize thousands into the Church Jesus founded.

The Holy Spirit has given Himself to all those who have been baptized. This novena is a great way to renew that gift in you. Ask Him to live in you anew.

A limited amount of Novena booklets are on the heat registers in St Joseph Church. Or you can go on this link for the Novena:

https://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/pentecost/seven.htm