St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

What's new for St Joseph and St Mary Parishes!


Leave a comment

Bible: Romans #2

Paul is setting the context of this letter from the outset. Verse one states, “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” Paul refers to himself as to be a slave. It is believed that he is in chains as one is bound as a slave. He is set to go to court in Rome while being accused of wrongdoing by the Jewish leaders of the time. It seems to be early in his bondage. Though human hands have bound him with the intent for death, Paul really does consider himself to be a slave to Christ Jesus. But this bondage is a path to freedom. He actually rejoices in this bondage. It is an opportunity to glorify God.

Verse two talks of how the Old Testament prophesied about the coming of Jesus. It states, “Which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy scriptures.” The Old Testament is considered to be the word of God known as Sacred Scripture. Paul is not referring to what he is writing is going to write. The New Testament has not yet been put together. In fact, it is still being written out, as is the case for the letter to the Romans. So the Old Testament is held very dear to the early Christians. Those Sacred Scriptures point to Jesus as the Messiah that is long waited for by the prophets.

Verse three continues to bring clarity that the gospel is about Jesus. Verse three states, “the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh” and verse four continues, “but established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” So Paul is establishing Jesus as a descendant of David in verse three as does the beginning of Matthew and Luke. It seems that Jesus has mere human origin, but in verse four, he states that there is more about this man Jesus than what appears to be. He is also a descendant of God. He comes to know this through the spirit of holiness and the fact that this Jesus rose from the dead.

Did you notice how it is worded about the Resurrection? Paul did not say “and about His resurrection from the dead.” No. It states, “through resurrection from the dead.” He does not limit the Resurrection to Jesus. Already, Paul is allowing for the reality of the promise that Jesus has made us of our resurrection. He is very aware of our eternal life, not just spiritually, but physically.

Verse 6, Paul recognizes that all the faithful are called to “belong to Jesus.” Paul realizes that the love of God is not his alone. He knows that it is for us too. In fact, he desires us to know of God’s love for us and really experience it in our lives. That is why he is writing this letter, so that others may know of the gospel message. The gospel message at this point in time is spoken. Some has been written, but not all of it as yet. So when Paul writes in the New Testament about the “gospel,” he is referring to the message of Jesus, His death and Resurrection, and His promise of Eternal Life.

The Romans by this time have already heard this message, but Paul wants to remind the people of this promise because it is the source of strength the Romans needed to persevere through all the hard times they had to endure. We need to hear this message too. That is why it is good to read the letter to the Romans. It can be an inspiration of faith and hope in the promise Jesus has given us. But do you understand what that promise is or even why it is so important? If we do not understand that, then the gospel message will mean nothing and we will remain in bondage and sin. Have you been freed from bondage and sin?


Leave a comment

Bible, Acts of the Apostles #17


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.


Leave a comment

Bible, Acts of the Apostles #16

The last half of Chapter 19 proves the difficulty in the change of culture that needed to happen for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ. A silversmith named Demetrius complained about how Paul was refuting his work, saying that his work was useless. Paul said he made false idols for worship, and that the works of human hands were not gods at all. That would mean Demetrius would be out of a job. A riot was almost started. It was so dangerous, the faithful made sure Paul would not come out and preach. It took some effort for the town clerk to convince the people to do everything through the legal system and not start a riot, which could have put everyone in danger. Continue reading


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

Bible, Acts of the Apostles 13

Chapter 17 begins with Paul getting to Thessalonica. I find it interesting the argument against Christianity is that the Apostles and early Christians were against women and their rights – that somehow they were suppressing women. Yet in verse 4 a great number of “prominent women” were converting. Not only were there many women, but they specifically say that they were prominent women who converted. Because they were prominent, these women were educated and had a sense of independence. It makes me think about what could have made these women take notice of the Christian faith. What would make independent women think about believing in Jesus and joining the Church? Perhaps they never felt suppressed. In fact, at that time, the Faith in Jesus honored women.
Women in the church were treated as equals and understood to be equals. But equality may not be the same as the agenda driven critics of the Catholic Church. Today, many with agendas may think equality as the same, so in order for there to be equality between men and women, they must be the same. But when you look at the definition of “equals,” you will not find the idea of “same.” Rather, equal refers to value, not same. So women and men are in fact different. That is why many think men are from Mars and women are from Venus. How men and women think is very different, but they both have the same value. Both are necessary for the betterment of society. There are so many people with so many gifts. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Bible: Acts of the Apostles 9

Chapter 14 shows how hard it can be when you bring Christ to others. There were people who constantly told lies about Paul and Barnabas that conditioned people not to believe. They became violent against them. Paul heals a crippled man by the power of Jesus. The people think that they are gods. They start to offer sacrifices for them. Paul and Barnabas tear their garments and tell the people not to do this, but they would not listen. Instead, a group of people from Iconium (the previous town) that did not believe in what they preached came to town (Lystra), and the people believed those who opposed Paul and Barnabas. What a strange turn of events. Paul heals a man and they think he is a god. Paul then tries to correct them. They don’t listen to Paul, but those who lie about him and end up stoning him think he is dead. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Bible: Acts of the Apostles 11

Chapter 16 is where Paul meets Timothy who later gets ordained a bishop by Paul (2 Tm 1:6). Paul starts with a town called Derbe. It is close to his old stomping grounds where he grew up (Tarsus). It is on the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea. He gradually goes west and ends up in Macedonia, which is in the northwest part of Greece. Continue reading