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)
Let’s go back to the Acts of the Apostles
OH GOODNESS GRACIOUS!!
So at the beginning what do we have?
Peter and John are going to the Temple
There is a man who is crippled and couldn’t walk
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Lord heals the man through Peter
THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!
Now, they are being brought before the priest, the captain of the Temple, and the Sadducees
The Sadducees are annoyed
The captain of the Temple and the priests are annoyed
All these people are annoyed
Why were they annoyed?
They were annoyed because Peter and the others were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
Do you remember the Sadducees?
They only believed in the first five books of Moses
The Sadducees did not believe in Angels
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead
One of the ways we can remember that is that the Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead and the Sadducees did not. And that's why they were SAD U CEE?
Golf clap, Fr. Mike 😁
So it’s interesting that they are annoyed
So Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin
Peter and John were in their presence during Jesus’ trial as well
This is remarkable to remember
Because the first time we don’t hear anything about John
We know that John went all the way with Jesus to the Crucifixion
We do know about Peter don’t we?
We do know that Peter failed
In that moment he was not bold
In that moment he cracked and he denied knowing Jesus three times
THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!
Acts 4:8-12, “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘ Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’”
THIS IS HUGE!!
Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
And here is Peter making it VERY CLEAR, “There is salvation in NO ONE ELSE, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Now the KEY WORD of Ch 4 is BOLDNESS
It says multiple times that they are FILLED WITH BOLDNESS
THIS IS REMARKABLE
They are common, ordinary, uneducated men
They have this new quality
And the quality is NOT THEIRS
They recognized that they had been with Jesus
OH MY GOSH!!
Acts Ch 4 is one of those chapters you want to mark this down
Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
THEY WERE DIFFERENT!!
There is something about that FOR ALL OF US
THAT IS THE KEY
THAT IS THE CORE
If we have been with Jesus, we should LOOK DIFFERENT
If we have been with Jesus, we should LOOK LIKE HIM
Jeff Cavins said a few days ago we have Peter who looks a lot like Jesus
Later on in Ch 8 we will see Paul who looks a lot like Jesus
That’s who we are called to be
We are called to LOOK LIKE JESUS
Acts 4:18-21, “They called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’ And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them…”
Because you can’t stop someone who is already dead
You can’t threaten someone who is already dead
Peter and John have DIED to themselves out of love for Jesus Christ
What happens from this?
Acts 4:23-24, “When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God…”
What did they pray for?
THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!
They don’t say, “God, there is a lot of danger out there and a lot of opposition. So, um, make it safe.”
“God, there is a lot of opposition out there and a lot of danger so take away the danger.”
What they pray for is in Acts 4:29, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all BOLDNESS, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
You know, IT IS INCREDIBLE
Do not pray for an easy life
PRAY FOR THE STRENGTH TO FACE LIFE
Do not pray for an easy life
PRAY FOR THE COURAGE TO FACE LIFE
Do not pray for an easy way to follow Jesus
PRAY FOR BOLDNESS TO FOLLOW JESUS
This is the secret of the saints and Acts Ch 4
These people were already LIVING IN BOLDNESS
They were already SPEAKING IN BOLDNESS
They said, instead of God take way the danger, they said, “Give us more boldness.”
“Lord Jesus, stretch out your hand and do miracles so that more and more people will know that you are the Messiah, that you are the one who conquered death and has restored life to all of us.”
HOW GOOD IS THIS??
THIS IS AMAZING!!
Romans Chs 6 and 7 there is too much to say!!
But let’s begin
Let’s try to say something
In Romans Chs 6 and 7 Paul has a pattern that maybe you noticed
He will say something then qualify it
Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the Law but by grace? By no means!”
He’ll ask those questions and then say, “No no that’s not what I meant.”
It’s a literary device and it’s great because it clarifies some things
Because at the end of Romans Ch 5 St. Paul had said as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness
So he then asked the question, “Are we saying, then, to continue in sin that grace may abound?”
Here’s what St. Paul was saying
The more SIN the more GRACE
The more we NEED God’s grace because of our SIN, the more he GIVES his grace because of our NEED
And so the question could be, “In that case, how about I sin more and get more grace?”
And that’s when St. Paul says, “No no no. That’s not the point. When you NEED the grace, grace is given. But don’t go injuring yourself in order to get more grace.”
The reality is that is the power of God’s healing and grace
We can be trucking along at a certain level of relationship with the Lord and holiness and with his divine life in us
And then we fall into sin
What happens when we repent and turn back to the Lord?
We go to confession and God doesn’t just raise us back up to the same level we were
He raises up and ELEVATES EVEN FURTHER because where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more
But that is why St. Paul clarifies don’t go looking for sin so that you get more grace
If you happen to NEED the grace, you can trust in the love of God for you to give you even more
Hopefully that makes sense
It goes on to talk about those of us who are baptized into Christ, baptized into his death
We were buried, therefore
The reality is the old man being our fallen flesh is meant to have been crucified with Christ in our Baptism
When we repented we turned away not just from sin, vice, or old habits
We turned away from THAT PERSON
I was someone DIFFERENT before I encountered Christ
I was someone DIFFERENT before he saved me
He has made me into a NEW CREATION
So I turn from that and let that person die
Fr. Mike went to confession and the priest said, “You know what, I think sometimes I think we would rather torture the former man rather than actually let him die.”
He was highlighting how sometimes we don’t really fully turn away from that former way of life
Sometimes we don’t really fully turn away from that sin
So the priest used that phrase
Keep that man alive a little bit and maybe he’ll have some power in our lives
Romans 6:6, “We know that our former man was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin.”
So if you have DIED with Christ, we also believe that you should LIVE with Christ
This is the whole incredible mystery
There is so much to say
There is so much good
But there is also this sense of OH MY GOSH PAUL UNDERSTANDS ME!!
Romans Ch 7 is another place to have your highlighter or pen to underline
The Interior Conflict between Good and Evil
This is one of those passages of Scripture you might say, “Oh my gosh!! This is me!!”
If it’s not, that’s great
Praise the Lord for that!!
But I read it and think, “Oh God! At least you understand me!”
Romans 7:15, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Have you ever felt like that?
We are at war within ourselves
Romans 7:16, “Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.”
Yeah because I want the right and I don’t want the wrong
Romans 7:17, “So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.”
Yes there is this BROKENNESS
When St. Paul is using the term “the flesh”, he is not condemning our bodies
“The flesh” means our fallen human nature
So keep that in mind whenever you hear St. Paul use the term “the flesh”
He means our fallen human nature
It doesn’t mean that bodies are bad
It means that part of us that doesn’t want to do the right thing
Romans 7:21, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand...But I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
I’m still a mess
Here I am a puddle of messiness
THANKS BE TO GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!!
That is the KEY
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MESS…
To be able to PRAISE GOD for his presence
For what he is doing in the midst of the mess
It has been an incredible gift to be in Day 4 in the Age of the Church and just be trucking along here
Here we are
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
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.”