Day 337: The Importance of Love

Acts 16:1-3 Timothy would accompany Paul in his missionary journeys, and it was to Timothy that Paul addressed two Epistles that form part of the New Testament canon.

He took him and circumcised him: Paul had long argued that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised in order to become Christian. However, if Timothy was to preach to the Jews, his circumcision would remove one barrier to their reception of the Gospel. (CCC 25, 1676)

Ch 16:4-15 The Christian communities accepted the decision of the Council of Jerusalem, a sign that the Christians in the local churches recognized the teaching authority of Peter and the Apostles. Led by the Holy Spirit, Paul’s vision took them to the province of Macedonia, a portal to the continent of Europe, instead of traveling into Asia as he had originally intended. There, in Philippi, he baptized the household of Lydia, a traveling merchant visiting from Thyatira who would play a key role in building up the Christian community in Thyatira. (CCC 1226, 1231, 1252)

Ch 16:10 The sudden use of the first-person plural would appear to indicate that Luke, the author of Acts, was also a companion of Paul on this missionary journey. This grammatical usage is continued for the rest of the book.

Ch 16:14 Opened her heart: Faith is a gift from God. As a “God-fearer,” Lydia was open to the Gospel, so the grace of the Word of God was at work within her, increasing her faith. (CCC 153)

Ch 16:16-24 Just as evil spirits recognized Christ as the Son of God and revealed his identity, the demons in the slave girl announced the mission and purpose of Saul. (CCC 434)

Ch 16:24-34 The miraculous earthquake, which broke the chains of Paul and Silas and opened the doors of the prison, converted even the prison guard.

With all his family: This is the third time Luke reported that a household had been baptized. This fact implies young children and infants were among the baptized. Not only does the Catholic Church uphold the validity of infant Baptism, which has been practiced since the earliest days of the Church, but she also teaches that Catholic parents have a grave responsibility to baptize and educate their children in the Catholic Faith. (CCC 1226, 1251-1252-1655)

Ch 16:27 Kill himself: The prison guard contemplated suicide, as he would have been harshly punished for allowing the prisoners to escape. Herod Agrippa I had a large number of guards executed after Peter escaped prison in Jerusalem through the help of an angel (cf. Acts 12:19). (CCC 2280-2283)

Ch 16:34 Where once he was a guard and the two Apostles were his prisoners, now they were all equal in the eyes of God. The joy and hospitality of the guard reveals his acceptance of Christianity. (CCC 792)

Ch 16:35-40 Christians have the right to demand justice under the civil law. As a Roman citizen, Paul and Silas should not have been flogged without a trial and a verdict of guilt. Paul will make good use of his Roman citizenship again in a later imprisonment as an occasion to introduce more people to the Gospel (cf. Acts 22:5). (CCC 2242, 2273)

Ch 16:40 Brethren: The members of the Church in Philippi. Like the jailer, they were now bound to Paul and Silas by fraternal love in Christ. Later, Paul would send the New Testament Epistle to the Philippians. (CCC 361, 2768)

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 In perhaps one of the best-known chapters of the New Testament, Paul stressed the significance of charity (love) as the greatest of all gifts. Any other gift exercised apart from charity is empty, and no amount of human achievement or even heroic deeds of faith have any meaning without charity. Christ emphasized that love of God and neighbor includes the entire Law and the prophets. Therefore, charity (love) must inspire every virtue for it to be pleasing to God. Every gift pales next to charity, which our Lord mandated before he died on the Cross. It is this faithful reflection of the love of Christ that draws people to God, moving them to repentance and conversion. Though special charisms have their importance, they are only affected when accompanied by charity. (CCC 735, 800, 953, 1825-1826)

Ch 13:8 Love never ends: When the world passes away, the just will continue to exist in perfect communion with God, who is love itself. (CCC 773)

Ch 13:12 Face to face: In Heaven, we will see God directly and not through the eyes of faith as in the present life. The direct and immediate sight of God is called the Beatific Vision. Our life of faith is the very beginning of the perfection of eternal life in Heaven. Not only will we be able to see God, but we will also understand his providence and the mysteries of the Faith. Heaven is the reward of anyone who strives for holiness by living the Beatitudes. (CCC 163-164, 314, 1023, 1720, 2519)

Ch 13:13 Faith, hope, and charity (love) are called the theological virtues. They are given by the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Baptism by which we become children of God and heirs of everlasting life. The presence of the theological virtues turns the moral virtues into a means of living the life of Christ. (CCC 1813, 1826, 1840-1841)

Ch 14:1-25 The purpose of charismatic gifts is to build up the Church, so these gifts are to be judged according to how well they accomplish that end. To speak a prophecy in a strange tongue falls on deaf ears unless someone is gifted to interpret it: to pray in tongues may edify the individual but will only help someone if understood. The higher gifts are those that teach and strengthen the faith of others. (CCC 2003-2004)

Ch 14:14-15 I will pray...mind also: Prayer should come from our hearts rather than by mere mindless and rote recitation. (CCC 1742, 2098, 2559, 2590)

Ch 14:26-40 Liturgical order was a problem in the Church at Corinth. Like the pagan cults, these Christians would sometimes get carried away with emotion. Again, Paul stresses edification as the rule of thumb. Each who wishes to speak or prophesy should do so in turn, and always with an interpreter so the message can be understood. In all liturgical celebrations, the laws of the Church should be observed. (CCC 752, 1205-1207)

Proverbs 28:13 The Sacrament of Penance “involves, on the part of the penitent, a sincere and complete confession of sins” (St. John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 31). It also involves true sorrow for all sins committed, resolve to avoid future sin, absolution, and completion of the assigned penance. It is a Sacrament of Healing ordered toward mercy. (CCC 1493-1496)

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

The Second Missionary Journey

  • Because of the council in Jerusalem, which delays his return trip to Galatia and the area of his first mission journey, Paul writes to the Galatians to guide the community there through the controversy stirred up by the circumcision party.

  • Now with the council’s resolution in hand, Paul sets off on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:36–18:22).

  • Paul returns to the area of Galatia, informing them of the Jerusalem Council’s decision and strengthening the young churches he planted in cities like Lystra, Derbe, and Pisidian Antioch (Acts 16:1-6).

  • After touring the region, Paul comes to the ancient port city of Troas on the western coast of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey).

  • Prevented from traveling east, Paul ponders in Troas where to go next.

  • At night he has a vision in which a man from Macedonia begs Paul to head west to present-day Greece.

  • Luke, a well-educated Hellenist, joins Paul in Troas (thus, beginning in Acts 16:10, Luke uses “we” in his description of Paul’s journeys).

Philippi: An Alternative Citizenship

  • From Troas Paul heads to Neapolis, the port city that served the Roman colony of Philippi.

  • In 44 B.C., Augustus won his triumphant battle against Julius’ assassins in Philippi and settled many of his soldiers there.

  • The Philippians were proud of their Roman roots and enjoyed the status of a Roman colony, which gave them tax benefits and made Philippi a thriving location for trade and business.

  • One woman, Lydia, likely moved there for the advantages to her purple-dye business.

  • Here Lydia encounters Paul and becomes the first European convert to Christianity.

  • She and her whole household are baptized, and she becomes a friend and supporter of Paul.

  • When Paul later writes to the church in Philippi, he commends them for their “partnership” (koinonia in Greek) in the Gospel, thanking them for their financial assistance for his mission work.

  • Paul’s letter to the Philippians contains the profound and moving hymn to Christ (Phil 2:5-11), in which Paul states that though Jesus was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God something to be exploited.

  • The phrase used for “equality with God” (in Greek, isa theo) can also be translated as “like god” and was often used by cities in the phrase “to honor like a god.”

  • Caesar Augustus outlawed the Greek custom of cities granting such a level of honor to anyone other than Caesar and his immediate family; thus, Paul’s use of this phrase for Jesus was a bold move indeed.

  • Additionally, the phrase “something to be exploited” (the RSV reads “grasped”) comes from the Greek word harpagmos, which can have the technical sense of an official (or politician) exploiting his office and authority for personal gain.

  • Jesus, Paul was saying, is the opposite of the typical Roman official who seeks power for personal benefit; Jesus seeks to serve.

  • The countercultural picture of Jesus in this hymn continues as Paul describes Jesus’ self-emptying as taking the dishonorable status of a slave who dies on a cross, a form of punishment the Romans reserved only for slaves and insurrectionists.

  • Paul goes on to show how God vindicated Jesus by raising him up, so that every knee on earth—and in all realms above and below—bows at his name and every tongue confesses his lordship (Phil 2:10-11).

  • Speaking of Jesus this way claimed for Jesus something that Rome claimed was the privilege of Caesar alone—universal homage.

  • Paul also tells the Christians of Philippi, whose citizens prided themselves on their Roman heritage and citizenship, that their loyalty truly belongs to another city: “But our commonwealth [citizenship] is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil 3:20-21).

  • A different citizenship, a different Lord, and a different Savior than Caesar: clearly Paul’s gospel provided a far different plot than the “gospel” of the emperor.

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

  • So a lot of action and adventure in Acts of the Apostles

  • Here’s Timothy!

  • OH MAN!!

  • The introduction of Timothy!!

  • We are going to have St. Paul’s Letters to Timothy in a little bit

  • And you would know that if you had downloaded The Bible in a Year Reading Plan from Ascension 😉

  • It’s actually happening in maybe 3 or 4 weeks

  • Timothy’s mom was Jewish and loved the Lord

  • So did his Grandma!!

  • But his father was a Greek

  • So Timothy was uncircumcised

  • They go on a mission and what does Paul do?

  • Paul has Timothy circumcised ahead of time

  • This is Paul living out the very principle he was instructing the Corinthians to do

  • He said to the Corinthians, “If something you do causes someone else to sin, then just stop it. Or if something you don’t do causes people to sin, then do the thing.”

  • Here is Paul who knows

  • He was at the Council of Jerusalem

  • He knows that you don’t HAVE to get circumcised

  • BUT…

  • He also knows that there are some Jewish Christians who would NOT accept Timothy UNLESS he was circumcised

  • There were also some Jews who desired to evangelize who wouldn’t listen to them if they know that Timothy is uncircumcised


  • Talk about taking one for the team!!



  • To see in action this principle of St. Paul, “If eating causes you to sin, I won’t eat. If drinking causes you to sin, I won’t drink.”

  • Here is Timothy as he is raising him up in the Faith as well just to say, “Ok there are some things that are worth doing for the sake of others. Not because in and of themselves they are what you need to do.”

  • But because of others for others he was doing that

  • So that was INCREDIBLE!!

  • It was a small thing, but a big thing

  • Know what I mean? (Jelly Bean? 😉)

  • Now Paul goes into Macedonia and has a vision

  • “Please come to us. Bring the Gospel to us.”

  • And we have the conversion of Lydia and her whole household

  • What happens after this?

  • There is this woman who has a spirit

  • Even in our day, as 21st century people, we tend to think at times that Satan is NOT REAL

  • We tend to think at times that demonic possession is NOT REAL



  • He is not a literary figure

  • He is a spiritual figure, a REAL figure


  • Here is this family that made a lot of money off this slave who had a DEMON, a spirit of divination

  • The demon knew the truth

  • So here they are following Paul and Silas saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”

  • And you think, “That’s a strange thing for a demon to say,”

  • She did this for many days and Paul was ANNOYED

  • I don’t know if you caught this, but in Acts Ch 16 Luke goes from saying “He [Paul]” to “We”

  • WE went to Macedonia

  • WE were there

  • And you can imagine Luke saying, “Yeah I saw Paul. He was ANNOYED. He was so bothered, so he said, ‘I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And she was set free.”

  • Because of all that, they were thrown in jail

  • So what do Paul and Silas do in jail?

  • Do they lick their wounds?

  • Do they complain?

  • Do they curl up in a ball?

  • NO!!

  • At midnight, they are still PRAYING and SINGING HYMNS TO GOD

  • The prisoners are listening to them

  • What happens?

  • God releases them

  • They proclaim the Good News to the jailer and him and their households are baptized that day

  • Then everything is revealed the next day that oh these were Roman citizens

  • Now, if you were not a Roman citizen, then they could be dealt with [without trial]

  • BUT…

  • If you WERE a Roman citizen, they deserve a trial innocent until proven guilty (not sure if that was a thing for sure)

  • BUT…

  • They DID deserve a trial and they would not be beaten before they were tried

  • So you can see how the magistrates were a little bit embarrassed that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens

  • So they were like, “Oh well you can go out secretly.”

  • And Paul was like, “Nope! You are going to let us out publicly so that everyone knows what you did.”

  • Which is pretty interesting

  • Now on to 1 Corinthians

  • GOSH!!

  • What did we hear today?

  • Ch 13 The Way of Love

  • Ch 14 Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues

  • First, The Way of Love

  • Paul just got done talking about the spiritual gifts and how the Church NEEDS the spiritual gifts

  • In the Church there are those who, through the wisdom given through the Spirit, they get the utterance of Wisdom

  • Through the same Spirit, knowledge

  • Through the same Spirit, mighty works

  • Through the same Spirit, healing

  • Through the same Spirit, another prophecy

  • Through the same Spirit, the ability to distinguish between spirits and we call that DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS

  • Through the same Spirit, various kinds of tongues

  • Through the same Spirit, the ability to interpret various kinds of tongues

  • So that was all in Ch 12

  • St. Paul says ALL of those are “inspired by one and the same Holy Spirit who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”

  • So those are gifts that EVERY Christian strives for

  • 1 Corinthians 12:31, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts.”

  • We want to ask God for these gifts

  • All of those gifts we can ask God for

  • He will give to us the ones that he knows will be used for the building up of the Church

  • These spiritual gifts are not sanctifying gifts

  • Those gifts, those charisms, those graces, do not make a person HOLY

  • A person can have the gift of healing and not be holy

  • A person can have the gift of prophecy and not be holy

  • A person can have the gift of holy works and not necessarily have a sin-free life

  • So that kind of grace is a grace that is meant to build up the Kingdom

  • It doesn’t necessarily or automatically sanctify the person that uses those gifts

  • Now, if you are cooperating with God’s Will, then YES you can be sanctified and be conformed more and more to his will

  • And we are made more and more holy THAT way

  • BUT…

  • The presence of the gifts and the exercise of the gifts THEMSELVES doesn’t mean that this person is super holy

  • That’s why you can have people who are incredibly close to the Lord and are incredibly aligned with his will and they don’t manifest any big dramatic gift like healing or mighty works

  • You can also have broken people who God still has given the gift of healing or tongues etc.

  • It’s not connected to one’s sanctifying grace

  • It’s not connected to one’s holiness

  • BUT…

  • It is meant, as St. Paul says so many times in Ch 14, for the BUILDING UP OF THE CHURCH

  • Those gifts are never given to the individual FOR THE INDIVIDUAL

  • They are given to the individual FOR THE SAKE OF THE BODY

  • They are given to the individual FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHURCH

  • So that’s one of the reasons why we ask God for these gifts

  • Not so that WE can be edified

  • Not so that WE can be built up

  • NO NO NO

  • So the CHURCH can be edified

  • So the people on the outside can say, “The Holy Spirit is working in the Church and he’s real. And he loves me. And he’s healed me. He’s spoken to me. He’s spoken a word into my life that has transformed my life.”

  • And that is why we ask God for these gifts

  • It’s also why St. Paul says, “The greatest of these is love.”

  • Why?

  • For many reasons

  • St. Paul says, very clearly and directly that ALL THESE OTHER GIFTS WILL CEASE

  • IN FACT...

  • In Heaven you won’t need HOPE OR FAITH

  • Because you will have your heart’s desire


  • That is why it is the greatest

  • Also, the reason why we need love is because we can have all these gifts and use them on myself

  • We can have all these gifts and just do it for me

  • BUT…

  • To have the gift of healing, prophecy, tongues, or any of the spiritual gifts, AND the gift of love, then you put those gifts at the service of others

  • You give of yourself because that’s what love is


  • It is BECOMING that gift


  • To bless the people around us

  • It’s the reason why St. Paul says, “Listen, you can pray in tongues all you want. I pray in tongues more than anybody. But that helps you pray. You’re speaking in the language of angels a lot of times. That’s how they describe it. And God knows what you are saying. But you don’t know. So you are still using your heart to pray. It’s also really good to use your mind to pray.”

  • So it’s good to know what you’re saying

  • Hence, it’s good to have someone who is interpreting, especially when you are in the community with the other people

  • It is really really good

  • It is more important to have prophecy that people can understand than it is just to have the words of the Spirit that no one can understand

  • Paul says, “When you are together, if some people are going to speak in tongues, make sure there is an interpreter. And hey, only go 2 or 3 at a time. Or go one at a time but only do 2 or 3. Because people are going to jump into wherever you’re praying and they’re going to be confused. They’re going to think you guys are crazy.”

  • 1 Corinthians 14:39-40, “So, my brethren, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order.”

  • So pray for the gift of tongues, by all means

  • So St. Paul is teaching us today about prayer, love, speaking in tongues, the gift of belonging to the Lord

  • The Spirit of God is WITH YOU!!

  • So Fr. Mike is asking the Holy Spirit, right now, who already has been given to you, “In the name of Jesus Christ, Father I ask you to please have an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the lives of every person who is listening to these words. May they prophesy mightily. May they be filled with wisdom and knowledge. May they be filled with the gifts of healing. May they use the gifts of mighty works and miracles. May they, Lord, speak in tongues. May they have interpretation of tongues and discernment of spirits. May they have all the spiritual gifts. But above all, Father in Heaven in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, send your Spirit of Faith, of Hope, and of Love, upon every person listening to these words. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.”


  • That’s what THAT was



Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you so much for this day, this new day, my gosh Lord! You are never not with us. God, you are always present to us. And you continue to help us. You continue to guide us. God, please receive our thanks. Please receive our praise today as we hear of the persistence and the perseverance, the faithfulness of Paul and Silas and the other Christians, even in jail, even in prison, even in defeat. We just give you praise and we thank you so much for such faithful older brothers in the Faith. We thank you for Lydia, one of the first converts there in Macedonia. We thank you for her. Thank you for her household. Thank you for the guards in his household. Lord God and we give you praise because you not only call us to love, you are love. Help us to love. Help us to trust. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”