GOSH YOU GUYS!!
OH MY GOODNESS!!
So...Acts of the Apostles is INCREDIBLE
Let’s highlight a couple of things
It might be odd that we started off in Acts 8:1, “And…” which basically connects Acts 7:60
So you might have thought, “Wait, what? What happened again?”
This was when Stephen had been stoned
Acts 7:59-60, “...the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul...and he [Stephen] cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
And the next verse is Acts 8:1, “And Saul was consenting to his death.”
So that’s in case you were wondering
And right after this, Acts 8:1, “...And on that day a great persecution arose against the Church in Jerusalem…”
So here, starting with Stephen, Christians were the persecuted
In ONE VERSE, Acts 8:1, “And Saul was consenting to his death…”
“...And on that day a great persecution arose against the Church in Jerusalem…”
“...And they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Now those are THREE movements
Firstly, here is Saul consenting to Stephen’s death
Secondly, here is the PERSECUTION arising in Jerusalem
Thirdly, here is the SCATTERING of Christians throughout the region of Judea and Samaria
Remember what Jesus had said, “You will receive the Holy Spirit, then you will proclaim-basically bring- the Gospel starting here in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria to the ends of the Earth.”
This is Jesus’ words being fulfilled
What is the CONTEXT in which they are being fulfilled?
The CONTEXT is PERSECUTION
We need to pray about this, especially as Christians in the 21st century
Sometimes we think, “Well, if I’m going to have the blessing of God....if I’m going to live out the plan, the will of God, it’s going to be prettier.”
There’s going to be LESS PAIN
There’s going to be LESS PERSECUTION
There’s going to be ONLY BLESSING
Here in Acts 8:1, “And Saul was consenting to his death.”
The Church is PERSECUTED
That SPARKS the next step of evangelization
That SPARKS the next step of the growth of the Church, not just in Jerusalem, but throughout Judea and Samaria
And FURTHER PERSECUTION will SPARK even more growth to the ends of the Earth
We have to realize that suffering, obstacles, and persecution DO NOT MEAN THINGS HAVE GONE WRONG
Sometimes, that’s just how it goes
THAT IS INCREDIBLE!!
So we have the little piece here of Philip, one of those who were sent
He gets sent out and he begins preaching the Word in Samaria
He comes upon Simon, who was a magician who amazed everybody
All of a sudden, they see the POWER of the Holy Spirit
Even Simon himself becomes a Christian
Peter and John come to that same region in Samaria
And here we have the term SIMONY
SIMONY is the buying and selling of religious things, sacred things, or blessings, that kind of idea
It is a SIN and it comes from Acts Ch 8
Here’s Simon the Magician who says, “I want to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from the Apostles.”
Peter has VERY STERN WORDS for him
The Church also has VERY STERN WORDS for anyone who would want to buy or sell holy things or buy or sell blessings
It is a sin called SIMONY named after Simon Magus
Kind of fun
Could you imagine your NAME becoming the name of a SIN?
It’s fascinating to Fr. Mike
The conclusion of Acts Ch 8 is one of Fr. Mike’s favorite stories
The Ethiopian Eunuch
So here’s this man, and he’s a eunuch
So basically he is unable to become a Jew because of his status of being a eunuch
He is not allowed to be a person of the OLD COVENANT
He is a GOD-FEARER
He has come to Jerusalem to worship even though he can’t participate FULLY in the worship with the people of Israel
So he’s fascinated by the Book of the Prophet Isaiah here
And Philip...I LOVE THIS
The Holy Spirit MOVES Philip to go up to the chariot and ask the question, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
And the Ethiopian Eunuch responds, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US!!
The book we have been reading…
THE 73 BOOKS we have been reading...and we’re not done yet...we have 30 plus days
But the 73 BOOKS we have been going through, they are God’s INFALLIBLE WORD
THE INFALLIBLE WORD OF GOD
We all know that they can be MISINTERPRETED
We all know that God’s word can be USED and DISTORTED
Not even DISTORTED but MISUNDERSTOOD
So here’s God’s INFALLIBLE WORD
What God’s INFALLIBLE WORD needs for us to impact our lives in a way that is INFALLIBLE is an INFALLIBLE INTERPRETER OF THE WORD
An INFALLIBLE BOOK without an INFALLIBLE INTERPRETER is a WORTHLESS BOOK
Because if I can get the interpretation WRONG, then it is kind of useless, right?
So what we need is what the Ethiopian Eunuch pointed out
“How am I supposed to understand this unless someone can guide me, unless someone can teach me?”
THAT IS THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH!!
Here is the role of Philip, in this case
It’s INCREDIBLE to realize that God has given us that
He has not only given us his INFALLIBLE WORD
He has given us the TEACHING OFFICE OF THE CHURCH, which is called the MAGISTERIUM
To be able to guide the discernment
To guide the interpretation
To guide our understanding of the Church
We are going to see this actually play out over the next couple of chapters
After Saul has his conversion, there’s going to be a number of moments where it’s like, “How do I understand this?”
How do I understand BAPTISM?
How do I understand CIRCUMCISION?
And the Church is going to be able to ANSWER THAT QUESTION
It’s just a really BEAUTIFUL THING
Again, not trying to make too strong of a case there (Don’t worry, in case you haven’t noticed over the last 329 days, I kinda DO try to make a strong case for the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church 🇻🇦⛪️...but don’t take MY word for it, watch this video where someone who looks a bit familiar explains a bit about the Magisterium of the Church Why Catholics Use Scripture and Tradition 😁)
It’s compelling and worth praying about
One quick note about Romans
What is happening in The Letter of St. Paul to the Romans?
Well, one of the things that’s happening...there’s many things, obviously
One of the things that is happening is there is this CALL TO LOVE
St. Paul has been talking this whole time about FREEDOM
If you’re free from the Law, you are not bound to the Law
You are now living by the Law of Love
You are now living by the Law of the Spirit
So that doesn’t mean you have LICENSE
That doesn’t mean you can do ANYTHING
Because you have to LOVE each other
Romans 13:8, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”
This is a very interesting piece
He applies this to the reality that there is some contention and discussion
Are there foods that you can eat, like are there foods that Christians can’t eat?
For example, are there foods that were offered in pagan temples that now Christians can’t eat because they were part of a religious ceremony offered to a false god?
The idea is that some people would say, “That’s completely fine, no big deal. Just eat the meat.”
Others would say, “Oh no, that’s SCANDALOUS, because that meat was offered to an idol, it was offered to a false god.”
St. Paul is saying, “Ok, whether you eat it or whether you don’t eat it, that’s irrelevant. The most important thing is does your eating of this meat hurt the faith of someone else? Or does the not eating of this meat hurt the faith of someone else? So take into account the people around you.”
He’s basically saying in this case, “You can do whatever.” KEEP IN MIND JUST THIS CASE
If what you choose to do is going to hurt the faith of your brother or your sister, then don’t do it
OUT OF LOVE FOR THEM!!
It almost seems too easy
It almost seems too common sense
It almost seems too clear
When we try to apply it to our OWN lives it’s just so difficult
Does that mean I don’t do anything
Or do I have to do EVERYTHING because this is going to scandalize my brother or sister
We say NO
We just come back down to this
The LAW is the LAW OF LOVE
If it’s going to HELP my brother or sister, then why not I do it
If it’s going to HURT my brother or sister, then why would I do it
It means living a DYNAMIC life
It’s not about being RIGID
It’s not about RULES
It’s about saying, “Will this help or will this hurt? If it hurts, I won’t do it. If it helps, maybe I will.”
I hope that makes sense!!
Romans Ch 13 and 14 is FULL OF GEMS
FULL OF GOLD
FULL OF ABSOLUTE BEAUTY
One last note…
Romans 13:11-12, “...For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…”
THAT IS THE LAST WORD
We’ll let that be the last word today
Just to live as in daylight
To walk in the light
And to recognize that the Lord LOVES YOU!!
GOD LOVES YOU, who are listening right now
HE IS VERY PROUD OF YOU!!
THE FATHER IS VERY VERY PROUD OF YOU!!
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER