Day 335: Run the Race

Acts 14:1-28 Paul and Barnabas experienced many difficulties in their efforts to spread the Gospel throughout the ancient world. In Iconium, for example, their presence caused a division in the community, and they were nearly stoned. In Lystra, after they cured a crippled man, the people mistook them for Greek gods and wanted to offer them sacrifice, but later, incited by some Jews who had come from Iconium and Antioch, they turned against Paul and stoned him. Miraculously surviving, Paul, along with Barnabas, re-entered the same towns again to strengthen the converts and establish leaders in the local communities to keep the Faith alive. (CCC 2114)

Ch 14:3-4 Paul and Barnabas were now considered Apostles. Although they were not among the original Twelve, they were Apostles by virtue of Paul having been called by Christ personally and by the fact that they had been sent forth to preach the Gospel.

By their hands: As Christ taught them, the Apostles used ritual gestures in the miracles worked by their hands. (CCC 699, 1507)

Ch 14:11-18 Lystra’s attempted deification of Paul and Barnabas springs from a popular legend that the gods had visited the area once in disguise and destroyed the homes of all households that did not welcome them. At the sight of the miraculous healing of the cripple, they decided that Paul and Barnabas were Hermes and Zeus incognito. The Apostles refused to be honored as gods. (CCC 2110)

Ch 14:14-17 Tore their garments: This gesture expressed objection or grief.

Vain things: Until Christianity reached the pagans, they had been allowed to worship idols. Christ’s teaching and redemption, however, was a call to abandon such practices and embrace the one true God. 

Yet he did...gladness: God has always been knowable indirectly through the intelligibility and goodness of the natural world and the order of the universe. The marvels and wonders of the created world serve as a preparation for belief in the Incarnation of the Son of God and his teachings. St. Thomas Aquinas developed five arguments for proving God’s existence through a metaphysical analysis of the world. Attributes of a Creator can be found everywhere; all living beings and the created universe reveal his power, providence, and goodness in the world. (CCC 32, 1147)

Ch 14:19-23 Paul’s brutal stoning did not deter him from returning to the city.

Many tribulations: The Apostles warned the new Christians that trials and persecution awaited them. However, it was through faithfulness amid adversity that they could enter eternal life. 

Elders: The Greek presbyteros is the source of the word “presbyter,” from which derives the word “priest.” (CCC 556, 2847)

Appointed: The Greek cheirotonesantes means to “extend one’s hand” in order to give authority for a particular position or task. Here, the Sacrament of Holy Orders conferred the authority to lead the Christian community and to celebrate the Sacraments.

When they had...many disciples: Proclamation of the Word inspires faith, which leads to Baptism. (CCC 556, 1236, 1554, 2847)

Ch 14:24-28 Returning to Antioch in Syria, Paul and Barnabas rejoiced at the fruitfulness of their apostolic efforts.

They gathered the church together: “Church” means “convocation,” which means to “call together.” It is God who gathers his people into the Church as one body, so closely identified with him that the faithful mystically comprise the Body of Christ. (CCC 777)

1 Corinthians 9:1-18 Defending his status as an Apostle and a witness to the risen Christ, Paul affirmed that an Apostle had the right to have his needs provided by the people he served just as the attendants and priests of the Temple received tithes. Indeed, the fifth Precept of the Church calls on the faithful to provide for the material needs of the Church. Paul, however, chose to support himself rather than rely on contributions from the faithful. It is clear from other verses in the New Testament, as well as tradition, that Paul was unmarried. While the Gospels mention Peter’s mother-in-law (cf. Lk 4:38), no mention is made of his wife or of any role that she might have had in his apostolic ministry.

Brothers of the Lord: The word translated as “brothers'' actually refers to all degrees of male relatives. The Church has always taught that Mary, the Mother of Christ, not only maintained her virginity at the moment of the conception and Birth of her Son, but that she remained a virgin all her life. (CCC 500, 857, 2122)

Ch 9:15-18 Paul was personally compelled to preach the Gospel because of his commission from Christ himself. (CCC 848)

Ch 9:19-23 Paul expertly crafted his preaching according to the needs of his audience. His education and depth of understanding of the Faith allowed him to tailor the Gospel to reach the Jews as well as the Gentiles from different cultures. His statements about becoming “a slave to all” and “all things to men” strike at the heart of Christ’s teachings on charity. An important component of Christian love consists in having a sensitivity and empathy for others in such a way that we identify with their joys and sorrows. (CCC 24, 876)

Ch 9:24-27 Athletic competitions were common in the world at this time, so Paul’s imagery would have been familiar to the Corinthians. Christians everywhere should focus on the ultimate goal of eternal life and give themselves entirely to a life of prayer and self-denial. (CCC 165, 1829)

Ch 10:1-13 The Exodus illustrates the importance of remaining faithful through difficult times. After being liberated from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites spent forty years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. During that time, they violated God’s covenant through idolatry and doubts against God’s providence. Many Israelites died in the desert without having seen the Promised Land. While temptation and hardship will be the lot of every follower of Christ, they can be assured of the ultimate victory. The New Testament and Old Testament are complementary; as St. Augustine taught, the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New. The persons and events of the Old Testament often have typological significance, meaning they prefigure persons and events in the New Testament. For example, as Paul noted in this passage, the crossing of the Red Sea is a type, or figure, of Baptism, and the manna that came from Heaven is a type of the Eucharist instituted by Christ.

Under the cloud: A cloud is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit; it is seen in the Exodus event, as well as at the Annunciation and in the Transfiguration (cf. Lk 1:35; Mt 17:5). The Baptism instituted by Christ is by water and the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 11:16). (CCC 128-129, 694, 697, 1094, 1221)

Ch 10:9 We must not put the Lord to the test: To second-guess or complain about God’s plans and wisdom shows disrespect and a lack of trust in his goodness and providence. No matter what the circumstances, we must be convinced of his love and care for us. In the wilderness before beginning his public ministry, Christ used the words of Deuteronomy to rebuke Satan for having tempted him: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Dt 6:16). (CCC 2119)

Ch 10:11 The Church recognizes that the writings of both the Old Testament and the New Testament are directly inspired and prompted by the Holy Spirit. Among the four senses of Scripture-spiritual, allegorical, moral, and anagogical-Paul referred here to the moral sense, suggesting that the stories and exhortations of Scripture should lead the faithful to live virtuous lives. Typology is the study of persons or events in the Old Testament that prefigure, or point to, persons or events in the New Testament that refer either directly to Christ or his teachings. (CCC 117, 2175)

Ch 10:13 This amazing comment attests to the work of grace within us. The Lord will always remain faithful in his commitment to help us avoid sin and grow in sanctity. Therefore, God will permit no temptation that goes beyond our strength. If we fall into sin, it is because we are not faithful. However, no one should believe that his or her salvation is assured or that he or she will never fall. Only through God’s grace can we endure until the end. (CCC 1887, 2846, 2848, 2863)

Ch 10:14-22 Although food sacrificed to idols was no longer considered unclean, Paul advised the Corinthians not to participate in pagan banquets, which were in essence a continuation of the pagan ritual sacrifice. Just as the Christian sharing in the Eucharist made the faithful one Body in Christ, the pagan banquet in a certain sense validated the immoral practices of the nonbelievers. (CCC 1334, 1361, 1621-1623, 1672)

Ch 10:16-17 In receiving the Body of Christ in Holy Communion, we are united with Christ and, as a consequence, with one another through his Church.

Cup of blessing: A cup blessed during the Jewish Passover meal that symbolized hope for the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of Jerusalem. This was the cup Christ consecrated at the Last Supper, becoming the chalice of his Blood in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, In this passage, Paul used sacrificial analogies in referring to the Eucharist; his words assure us of both the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the sacrificial nature of the mass. 

Table of the Lord: The altar in the Temple was referred to as the Lord’s Table. (CCC 1327, 1331, 1396, 1419, 2047-2048)

Ch 10:23-33 Paul advised that if they did not know if the meat at the market or at an unbeliever’s house had been sacrificed to idols, they should not inquire but simply offer thanks to God for the food. However, if they had learned that it was from a pagan sacrifice, then they should refrain from eating so as to avoid the possibility of scandal. (CCC 953)

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We give you glory. We ask you to hear our prayers. And we ask you to please help us to not turn away from your Law. Help us to always be attentive to your Word. God, we ask that you open our eyes to see your will and your presence in all places and all things and all events. Help us to open our ears, Lord God. We ask you to please open our ears so we can hear your Word and we can hear the voices of our brothers and sisters and respond in love. Give us hearts like yours, Lord God. You love perfectly. You love infinitely. You love well. Help us to love more perfectly. Help us to love like you. Help us to love well. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”