Day 325: Boldness in Faith

Acts 4:1-22 The Jewish leaders who questioned Peter and John were amazed at the eloquence and wisdom of these uneducated fishermen, not recognizing the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. The interrogators could not deny the miracle just performed and, therefore, could not easily dismiss the Apostles, who at the same time were gaining in popularity among the people. After the Apostles refused to remain silent, the high priests had no choice but to set them free. (CCC 152, 683, 1303)

Ch 4:1 Captain of the temple: The Temple had its own guards to keep order in the immediate vicinity.

Sadducees: Members of this Jewish priestly sect accepted only the five books of the Torah and were on friendly terms with the Romans. Because they denied the resurrection from the dead, they clashed both with the Pharisees and the Christians. (CCC 993)

Ch 4:5-6 Rulers and elders and scribes: These leaders constituted the Sanhedrin, the highest court governing religious matters for the Jews of that day. It was composed of seventy members-mostly Sadducees and Pharisees-plus the high priest. 

Annas...Caiaphas: Both of these high priests figured in the prosecution of Christ. Annas was the high priest when the Romans ousted him AD 15 to install Caiaphas, his son-in-law, who was high priest at the time of Christ’s Passion. The Jews, however, still recognized Annas as the legitimate high priest, so both men were known by that title. (CCC 572)

Ch 4:11 Peter paraphrased a passage from the Psalms (cf. Ps 118:22) that Christ had also applied to himself (cf. Mk 12:10; Lk 20:17). In the phrase “you builders,” he directed the charge of rejecting Christ against his interrogators. In Scripture and in popular metaphors, the Church is often compared to a building, or structure: the house of God or the Temple made of living stones. (CCC 756)

Ch 4:12 The very name of Jesus, “YHWH saves,” signifies that in Christ, the Son of God was made flesh in order to save us. His name has a power that the faithful may call upon. Even the Jewish leaders on some level recognized this as they ordered the Apostles not to work “in his name.” Christ’s promise has proven true: Whatever would be asked in his name would be granted (cf. Jn 14:13). The miracles and signs performed by the Apostles in the name of Jesus give strong evidence that he is the Savior of the world. (CCC 1, 432, 452, 1507)

Ch 4:20 Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were compelled to preach the Gospel fearlessly. Moreover, the Holy Spirit transformed the Apostles in such a way that they reflected Christ in their love, wisdom, and courage as well as in their marvelous works. (CCC 425)

Ch 4:21 Luke noted how the Christians constantly expressed praise and thanksgiving to God for the works he accomplished on earth. (CCC 2640)

Ch 4:23-31 The Christian community, aware that the persecutions predicted by Christ had begun, prayed for fidelity and perseverance in their work of evangelization.

Why did the Gentiles...against his Anointed: The passage from the Psalms described not only the persecutions unleashed against the infant Church but also the hostility that Christ and his followers would encounter in every age (cf. Ps 2:1-2). Christ, like the Hebrew Messiah, means “the anointed one.” (CCC 4336, 2623)

Ch 4:27-28 God exists outside of time; therefore, in his omniscient and eternal knowledge, all moments of time are immediately present to him. He thus had perfect foreknowledge of how human history would unfold. Although this knowledge allowed him to anticipate his plan for salvation in advance, it did not in any way infringe upon the free will of every human person. Since God created us with free will, he allows for the consequences of sinful acts. In his infinite wisdom and power, his redemption will ultimately be victorious in spite of the widespread presence of sin. (CC 600)

Ch 4:32-37 The spirit of detachment practiced by the first Christians led many of them to share their land and possessions in common for the sake of the Church, thus exhibiting a true solidarity that respects the dignity of every person and seeks to overcome inequities. They also continued to meet for the prayers and the celebration of the Eucharist. 

Barnabas: A disciple who later would accompany Paul on some of his missionary journeys. (CCC 952, 995, 1943-1948, 2790)

Romans 6:1 Although sin and evil bring about a manifestation of God’s grace, forgiveness, and mercy, the gravity of sin is in no way mitigated. Grace is offered both to forgive sins and to avoid sins. To rationalize sin because we know of God’s abundant graces is to commit the sin of presumption. (CCC 2733)

Ch 6:3-4 The Sacrament of Baptism is a sharing in the Death of Christ. This is graphically symbolized in Baptism by immersion: in going under the water, we “die” to our sins and then rise again out of the water to have new life. We unite ourselves to his Death in hope of uniting ourselves also to his Resurrection. For this reason, Baptism is the primary Sacrament of the forgiveness of sins. (CCC 730, 1213-1214, 1226-1249, 1270, 1708)

Ch 6:4-5 United with him: We conform ourselves more closely to Christ and his Passion and Death by living according to his Word and example, by keeping the Commandments, and by carrying our daily crosses. (CCC 537, 628, 654, 977, 1694-1697)

Ch 6:9-10 Although the Paschal mystery-Christ’s suffering, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension-is a historical event, it is not relegated to the past alone. Christ’s redemptive Sacrifice transcends time and place and has, therefore, destroyed sin and death for all time. His one Sacrifice is made present in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Paschal mystery draws us into the life of Christ, which is then perfected with him in Heaven. 

(CCC 1085, 1987)

Ch 6:11 Baptism incorporates us into the life of Christ, which allows us to share in his divine life and become members of his Mystical Body. Our “old selves” that lived in sin have died so that we can live this new life in Christ. (CCC 1694)

Ch 6:12-23 It is impossible to keep the Law perfectly without grace. Because of our inclination toward sin, which is a lingering effect of Original Sin, human strength is not enough to resist all sin. Paul spoke of this reality as enslavement to sin. By placing ourselves “under grace,” however, we have God’s help in resisting temptation and in keeping the Law. Through our new life in grace, it is now possible to live the moral law, effectively resist temptation, and become transformed in Christ. (CCC 1739, 2819)

Ch 6:17 Standard of teaching: From the context, it would seem this term refers to an early creed expounding the basic beliefs of Christianity. To believe and profess the creed of the Church is an indispensable condition to enter into communion with the Trinity through a new life in Christ. At Baptism, the recipient is anointed with the Oil of Catechumens as a sign of embracing the faith and accepting the duty to profess it. 

Slaves of sin: Misusing our free will to sin constitutes an abuse of freedom that enslaves us to sin. Baptism liberates us from sin and from the bondage of Satan. This is expressed in the Rite of Exorcism, which comprises part of the Baptismal liturgy. (CCC 197, 1237, 1733)

Ch 6:19-23 Death is a consequence of sin, but the gift of God is eternal life. This gift is made possible through the Paschal Mystery. In Baptism, we become sanctified by the Holy Spirit and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. (CCC 1006-1008, 1018-1019, 1719, 1995)

Ch 7:1-6 Using marriage as a metaphor, Paul compared the Law to a spouse. As long as the spouses were alive, neither was free to marry another. However, now that the people were dead to the Old Law, they were free to form a new union with Christ: Grace transforms and, therefore, enables us to go beyond the law by bestowing upon us the ability to reflect in our personal life the teachings of Christ. The more we open ourselves to grace, the more we approach the goal of loving as Christ did. It is through the grace of Baptism that we become children of God rather than slaves to sin and evil desires. (CCC 1134, 1963, 1996)

Ch 7:4 The body of Christ: In this instance, Paul was referring to the literal Body of Christ in the sense of his Death on the Cross. Usually, he refers to the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. (CCC 791)

Ch 7:5 Living in the flesh: A general term signifying the concupiscence we inherit from Adam. Rather than living in the Spirit, which gives us true joy, it means living according to carnal desires and the fleeting and empty joys of self gratification. Unless there is a constant struggle against the inordinate passions of the flesh, the mind and heart become enslaved, thus rendering the conscience ineffective. (CCC 1995)

Ch 7:6 Captive: For the people of Israel, who lacked the grace to live the Law perfectly, the Law became a burden or bondage that left them without hope. The Law pointed out their transgressions but gave them no recourse for keeping it. (CCC 1963)

Ch 7:7-12 The Law spelled out the nature of sin and the obligation of avoiding it. However, while the Law denounced sin, it did not provide any defense against it. That would come later through the gift of grace. (CCC 1961-1963, 2542)

Ch 7:7 You shall not covet: The realm of sin is not confined to external, visible acts but also includes willful interior dispositions and attitudes as well. In this way, the Commandments reveal that all sin begins internally, in our hearts and minds, before being expressed in external actions. The Ninth and Tenth Commandments prohibit coveting the property or spouse of another person. (CC 2514, 2534-2536)

Ch 7:12 It is important to bear in mind that the Commandments and the Old Law are sacred because they reflect the eternal wisdom of God’s will. The moral law prepares us for interior conversion in order to have a personal relationship with God. The effort and good will to live the Commandments are a prerequisite to grow in holiness so as to be able to live the charity of Christ. (CCC 2541)

Ch 7:13-25 Paul described the essence of the struggle with sin by elaborating on the tension between good dispositions and the strong inclination toward pride and lust. Even when we know what is good and desire to do good, our evil tendencies are often hard to control. Baptism cleanses us of sin but does not remove all inclinations to sin. We retain our freedom to choose good or evil and must freely respond to God’s grace if we are to overcome sin. A sensitive conscience moves the person to rely on the help of grace to live the requirements of the New Law of grace in charity. (CCC 1865)

Ch 7:13-14 The Law is seen in a negative light that stresses sin without the grace of justification that enables us to live according to the moral law. (CCC 1707)

Ch 7:15-20 Paul laments over the interior struggle against sin, which involves good and holy desires being frustrated by human weakness. 

Ch 7:22-25 My inmost self: Putting on Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit makes the individual a “new creature” (cf. 2 Cor 5:17), for “a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ez 36:26). Paul refers here to the very depth of his being, his soul, which he has oriented towards Christ. Nevertheless, the life of a Christian is never free from struggle and temptation due to our fallen state of concupiscence. (CCC 1995, 2542)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. Thank you so much. Gosh, Lord God, as we just keep hearing about your grace that is just poured out on us. Your grace which comes to meet us in our brokenness, help us to just say yes. Help us to say yes to your grace. Help us to say yes to your gift. Lord God, right now help us to say yes to you, that you may be glorified in everything we think, everything we say, and everything we do. That you may be known and that more and more people may love you and that you may be loved by more and more of our heart. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”