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.
So a lot of action and adventure in Acts of the Apostles
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 it...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
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
SO FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS
Talk about taking one for the team!!
WHAT A GIFT!!
THAT IS INCREDIBLE!!
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
IT IS VERY REAL!!
SATAN IS VERY REAL!!
He is not a literary figure
He is a spiritual figure, a REAL figure
AND IN THIS CASE…
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?
At midnight, they are still PRAYING and SINGING HYMNS TO GOD
The prisoners are listening to them
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]
If you WERE a Roman citizen, they deserve a trial innocent until proven guilty (not sure if that was a thing for sure)
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
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
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
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.”
For many reasons
St. Paul says, very clearly and directly that ALL THESE OTHER GIFTS WILL CEASE
In Heaven you won’t need HOPE OR FAITH
Because you will have your heart’s desire
BUT YOU WILL NEED LOVE!!
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
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
Love is WILLING THE GOOD OF THE OTHER
It is BECOMING that gift
It is USING 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.”
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
That’s what THAT was
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER