Bible, Acts of the Apostles #20

Within a week after Paul was in the hands of the governor, Ananias was there to make accusations against Paul. He was held in Herod’s praetorium near Caesarea where the governor was. Paul’s accusers gave an eloquent presentation, but nothing of substance. They butter up the governor; they want to cover up their accusation of Paul. The judge, Felix, heard Paul and seemed to favor Paul somewhat. It seems Felix may have been a wise man, but not all pure. He never prosecuted Paul, but was hoping to get a bribe from him. His wife was Jewish, but there is no mention of how she reacted to Paul. Like Herod, who heard John the Baptist, Felix likes to listen to Paul, until Paul talks about God’s judgment. Paul ends up in jail there for two years until Felix dies.
The new guy, Porcius Festus, starts to dig in a little more. He wants to please the Jews because it makes things easier for him. It is better to have subjects that are willing to help than subjects that will fight everything. So Festus agrees to bring Paul back to Jerusalem. Festus does not know this, but the Jewish accusers plan on having Paul killed while in transport. But Paul makes an appeal to Caesar and Festus agrees.
However, King Agrippa came to town to visit Festus and Festus explains the situation. This piques the interest of King Agrippa, so the next day they meet Paul. As the court convenes, Festus explains his position. He does not know how to approach the situation since there are no reasons for putting Paul to death. How does he send Paul to Caesar when there are no “charges against him”? (Ch 25,27) So Agrippa has Paul testify before him.
Paul again gives his conversion story. He speaks of how he is arrested for the teaching of the resurrection of the dead. Festus thinks he is crazy, but Agrippa is more familiar with the Jewish community and knows what Paul is speaking of. The court convenes and comes to determine that Paul should be set free, if he had not appealed to Caesar (26:32).
Over two years have passed and nothing happens. Paul is in jail the entire time. People can come and visit and tend to his needs. His evangelization is seeming to come to an end. People he knows can come to visit a little, but he cannot go out and preach. Like Jesus, they still cannot find anything to charge Paul with. All accusations are emotionally charged. Paul’s accusers demand death.
We always have to be careful about those who accuse others, especially when it is emotionally charged and no substantial and physical evidence is given. Even then, emotions can twist an event and make it look like an evil deliberately done.
Today’s media is all about the emotions. And the world today says that we must obey our emotions in order to have joy. It also teaches that all truth is found in our emotions. Our Catholic Tradition teaches the exact opposite. The mind discovers truth and reality. Our emotions can never lead us to truth and would never lead us to freedom. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, our intellect has been dulled. This sets up our intellect to be overpowered by our emotions. Our emotions now can all too easily tell our intellect what to believe or how to interpret peoples’ actions. Emotions gone awry causes division and arguments. The Roman officials were well versed in logical thinking and found what Paul’s accusers were lacking in was clear thinking. It is something that is sorely needed today.