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 

Philippi: An Alternative Citizenship 

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

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.”