Day 340: The Power of the Holy Spirit
Acts 19:1-7 Ephesus was a large metropolis of around 200,000 residents. In that same city there were some disciples who had neither received the Sacrament of Baptism nor heard of the Holy Spirit. More than twenty years after his death, John the Baptist still had pockets of followers who were not fully incorporated into the Christian Church. They eagerly sought the infusion of the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. (CCC 699, 1185, 1285, 1288, 1299-1300)
Ch 19:8-22 Paul worked many cures by invoking the name of Jesus . Some of the Jewish exorcists mistakenly believed that they could wield the same power by invoking the Savior’s name. This attempt was a spectacular failure. The power of Jesus’ name is certainly not a result of a magical incantation but is freely employed through grace and faith in Christ. The exorcists’ disastrous and well-publicized efforts turned the entire city against the practice of magic to avoid any offense against God. Even many of the practitioners themselves repented of the dark arts. (CCC 434-435)
Ch 19:9 The Way: Another popular name for the early Christian community.
Ch 19:11-12 Even articles of Paul’s clothing seem to have occasioned the casting out of demons and curing of sickness for those with faith. The Church has always venerated the relics of saints, including articles of clothing and items from their earthly possessions, and some have been instruments of healing through faith and God’s grace. (CCC 1673)
Ch 19:13-16 Dark magic, soothsaying, necromancy, and divination constitute forms of idolatry. It is essential that legitimate Christian practices such as the use of sacramentals, devotions, indulgences, religious articles, and ascetical endeavors retain their proper perspective of faith as opposed to the various forms of superstition. (CCC 1674-1679)
Ch 19:23-41 Soothsaying and magical arts were big businesses in the ancient world. Earlier, Paul’s exorcism of a possessed slave girl drew the ire of her owners, who made money from her soothsaying. Moreover, local silversmiths in Ephesus were finding that Paul’s preaching of the Gospel was turning people away from worship of Artemis, the goddess of fertility, whose temple was in Ephesus. As a result, their lucrative business in the manufacture and sale of idols and trinkets had suffered. Only the diplomacy of Alexander quelled the riot and saved Paul’s companions from harm. The Temple of Artemis, one of the traditional Seven Wonders of the World, was destroyed by the Goths AD 262. (CCC 2117, 2138)
Ch 19:35 Sacred stone: Reportedly, a stone resembling the goddess fell from the sky around 800 BC and was enshrined in the temple. (CCC 2112)
Ch 19:39 Assembly: The word ekklesia, meaning an assembly or convention, is translated as “church.” While used in the Septuagint to refer to the Israelites, the Apostles chose this word to designate the Christian community. (CCC 751)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
Scholars agree that St. Paul was the author of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, although there is some discussion as to whether the Epistle as received today is a compilation of two or more letters from S. Paul to the church at Corinth.
This theory is due to the range of subjects and abrupt changes in tone that occur throughout the Epistle.
The Epistle is believed to have been written AD 57, about a year and a half after the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
Evidently, St. Paul had made two visits to Corinth by this time, and parts of the Epistle appear to be a follow-up to the second, brief visit and to some issues that were raised at that time.
The faithful in Corinth were again the target audience for St. Paul as the Apostle addresses issues both new and old, including some personal attacks on his own person and credibility that arose during his second visit.
St. Paul expressed several emotions in the Epistle, alternately showing joy and praise at the repentance and reconciliation on the part of some of the faithful and then issuing a somewhat heated defense of his ministry against some who had attacked him.
He seems to have had detractors among certain people in Corinth as well as rival missionaries who questioned his credentials as an Apostle of Christ.
St. Paul asserted that he was deemed qualified to preach the Gospel by God himself (cf. 3:4-6), that his suffering for the Gospel bore witness to his credibility; and that he boasted only in Christ whose grace made his preaching bear fruit despite his personal weaknesses (cf. 12:9-10).
In the midst of these spiritual passages, St. Paul took time to make an impassioned plea for a collection for the poor of Jerusalem and extolled the virtues of generosity and stewardship (cf. chapters 8-9)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
2 Corinthians 1:1-2 The introduction designates Paul as an Apostle (in Greek, apostolos, meaning “one who is sent”). Although he was not among the Twelve selected by Christ to accompany him during his ministry, Paul was called an Apostle by virtue of his extraordinary call from Christ, who appeared to him in a vision (cf. Acts 9:1-22). Occasionally, he had to defend his identification and status as an Apostle, and this letter is no exception.
Saints: Every member of the Church-whether as part of the Pilgrim Church on earth (Church Militant), the Holy Souls in Purgatory (Church Suffering), or the blessed in Heaven (Church Triumphant)-is part of the Communion of Saints and, therefore, rightly referred to as a saint. Each of the faithful is called, by virtue of his or her Baptism, to a life of holiness. (CCC 659, 956-958, 956-959, 2013)
Ch 1:2-11 The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick gives us grace to remain faithful to Christ amidst suffering and so we can unite it to the Passion of Christ. In doing so, suffering acquires redemptive value. Because the Church is the Body of Christ, all the faithful are affected by either the holiness or the sinfulness of each individual member. Intercessory prayer-prayer for the intention or benefit of another person-is affirmed as laudable and effective. (CCC 2598, 2634-2636)
Ch 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father…: Praise and adoration are important features of Christian prayer. When we direct our blessing to God, we express our praise and desire to give him glory. As expressed in the Church, we pray to the Father through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 2626-2627)
Ch 1:5 Sanctity-faithfully reflecting the life of Christ-is the goal of every Christian. Not only is a Christian called to imitate Christ’s virtues but to bear life’s crosses with faith and love, joining them to Christ’s redemptive Sacrifice. (CCC 618, 2013, 1521, 2029)
Ch 1:8 It is not clear what affliction and fear of death Paul referred to here, but we know from the Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s various Epistles that he often found himself opposed by certain authorities and by those who rejected or felt threatened by his preaching. Paul turned these occasions into opportunities to grow in his trust in God rather than in his own abilities. Paul knew well the connection among our concupiscence and earthly unhappiness and the sin of Adam, and he found victory over such afflictions in the Cross of Christ. (CCC 403, 2738-2739, 2742)
Ch 1:12-24 Certain people in Corinth had been criticizing Paul, causing some to doubt him or even to turn against him. He had also disappointed the community there by not visiting as he had promised. Paul defended himself by stating that he had always acted in good conscience; he also related that he stayed away because it would have been an unpleasant visit for the Corinthians-perhaps because of the controversies and the serious moral problems that had arisen. (CCC 74, 828, 1065)
Ch 1:14 Day of the Lord Jesus: This is the Final Judgment at the end of the world, when Christ will return to judge each soul. (CCC 677)
Ch 1:21 Commissioned: The Greek chrisas means, literally, “anointed.” To anoint in this sense is to consecrate and designate someone to a specific purpose or mission. (“Messiah,” or “christ,” means “the anointed one.”) In this case, Paul was stating that his apostolic work in Corinth was a mission given to him by God for which he had received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In its various other contexts, anointing signifies cleansing, strengthening, comforting, and healing. The Church anoints with oil in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick. (CCC 695, 698, 735, 1294)
Ch 1:22 Seal: Official documents at that time were often sealed in wax or clay that had the official imprint, or seal, of the particular authority to prove its authenticity. We also speak of a seal, or indelible mark or imprint, on the soul that accompanies certain Sacraments, namely Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. For this reason, these Sacraments can be received only once.
Guarantee: The Holy Spirit’s action among us is a foretaste of the complete share in the divine life that we will enjoy in Heaven. If we remain faithful to our baptismal promises, we can be hopeful of being raised to eternal life. This is what the liturgy of the Church means in Eucharistic Prayer I (the Roman Canon) when it asks the Lord to remember those “who have gone before us with the sign of faith...Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light, and peace.” (CCC 698, 1106-1107, 1121, 1272-1274, 1296)
Ch 1:23 I call God to witness against me: When someone says or implies that he or she wants God to serve as a witness to his or her testimony, it constitutes an oath. An oath is not something to be taken lightly; it must be grounded in truth and justice. To make an oath regarding an untrue statement shows grievous disrespect for the name of God and violates both the Second and Eighth Commandments. (CCC 2150-2155)
Ch 2:1-4 The pain of Paul’s canceled visit to the Church at Corinth would have been mutual.
With many tears: Paul referred to a previous letter-possibly 1 Corinthians but more likely another, unknown letter-that he wrote out of love for his people, knowing at the same time that his rebuke would sting. Such a correction, done in love by a proper authority or by a brother or sister in Christ, ought to be received with obedience and docility. (CCC 1829, 2216, 2478)
Ch 2:5-11 The person in question here had apparently repented, and so Paul counseled a show of forgiveness and love by the community.
Overwhelmed: Too heavy a punishment can make a person so ashamed or discouraged that he or she loses faith and hope. Repentance must always be the goal of every such action. (CCC 2266, 2842-2845)
Ch 2:11 The design of Satan is to separate us from Christ. (CCC 409, 414)
Ch 2:12-17 Paul rejoiced in the number of converts that had been won for Christ through the preaching of the Gospel. His detractors taught a false gospel in order to tear down what he had begun. Paul, however, consistently insisted that the Gospel he taught came from Christ. (CCC 799, 2045)
Ch 2:14-15 Fragrance of...aroma of Christ: The Old Testament sometimes described sacrifices offered to God as having a pleasant odor. It also used such language to illustrate how God’s wisdom spread throughout Israel through the Law (cf. Sir 24:15). Paul used this imagery to emphasize the charity of Christ, which is diffusive and most attractive. (CCC 868, 1294)
Ch 2:17 Peddlers of God’s word: Paul referred to the false apostles in these terms because they preached for financial profit. Paul acquitted himself by pointing out that he and his companions did not accept such assistance but instead earned their living through their hard work. (CCC 2121)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
The Third Missionary Journey
Following his strategy for targeting important cities from which Rome ruled an entire region, Paul travels in his third mission journey (Acts 18:23–21:16) to the large city of Ephesus, where he spends the better part of three years.
By planting the gospel in the commercial hub of Ephesus, Paul put the Christian faith in the crossroads of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), where it could quickly spread.
Indeed, after Paul’s first two years in Ephesus, “all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10).
A good example of how the gospel spreads is found in the city of Colossae, which Paul does not visit but which is evangelized by Paul’s disciple Epaphras.
Epaphras learns of the faith in Ephesus and then brings it to one of the smaller, outlying cities.
Thus Paul’s work in Ephesus also bore fruit in the many cities that were the spokes shooting out from the hub that was Ephesus.
Ephesus: Spiritual Warfare
In Ephesus, a group of itinerant Jewish exorcists compete with Paul in casting out evil spirits.
Paul’s success sparks the non-believing Jews to show that they, too, can compete spiritually with him, but when they attempt an exorcism the evil spirit says, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15).
They are overthrown and beaten, and run out stripped of their clothing and honor.
Meanwhile, Paul commands the respect of both Jews and Greeks, many of whom repent of their occult practices and publicly burn their magic books, valued at 50,000 silver pieces (Acts 19:19).
Because Ephesus was the center of occult objects and magic books in the Roman Empire, Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with an address about spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-20).
The Ephesians’ rejection of occult and pagan practices leads the silversmith Demetrius to start a riot.
Demetrius fashioned shrines and amulets for the pagan cult of Artemis and feared that if Paul kept turning people away from idols, his business would dry up.
Artemis, the most popular deity in Ephesus, was a virgin mother whose temple was so spectacular that it was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
According to tradition, Ephesus was the city where the beloved disciple brought the blessed mother of Jesus; as Ephesus turned to faith in her son, Mary, the true virgin mother of God, overcame the pseudo-virgin mother.
The riots started by Demetrius force Paul to leave Ephesus.
He journeys back to Greece and confirms the churches in cities like Corinth, where he had already been.
After visiting Macedonia, Paul returns to Troas, where he celebrates the Eucharist with the community and preaches through most of the night.
A young man named Eutychus, which means “lucky one,” falls asleep during Paul’s homily and falls three stories down from his window seat and is taken up dead. Paul rushes to the young lad and embraces his body.
Eutychus revives, showing Paul to be a new Elijah, who likewise brought a young man back to life (1 Kgs 17:21-24).
Paul then makes his way back to Jerusalem, wanting to arrive in time for Pentecost, meeting the elders of the church of Ephesus in Miletus on the way.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
The Holy Spirit!!
HOLY GHOST!! 😉
Acts of the Apostles Ch 19 we have Paul in Ephesus
Here are these people who believe they are disciples of Jesus
And they ARE disciples of Jesus
Acts 20:2, “And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’”
That is a GREAT description of SO MANY CHRISTIANS
That is a GREAT description of how SO MANY OF US LIVE
Yeah, pray in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Do we LIVE in the power of the Holy Spirit?
We so often live like the Ephesians did before Paul showed up
Where he spoke over them and prayed over them
They received the power of the Holy Spirit
Remember at the beginning of The Acts of the Apostles, what did Jesus Christ PROMISE?
He promised to send them the DYNAMITE POWER of the Holy Spirit
So many of us Christians live without that DYNAMITE POWER
So many of us have HEARD that there is a Holy Spirit
We never realized that God wants to fill us with the power of His Holy Spirit and help us walk, NOT ONLY BY OUR OWN STRENGTH...NEVER BY OUR OWN STRENGTH...but by HIS strength coming to us through the Holy Spirit
WHICH IS INCREDIBLE!!
Acts 19:11,-12 “And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”
THIS is one of the reasons why we as Catholics have religious objects that we treat with VENERATION
NOT because we believe in any kind of SUPERSTITION
Here are OBJECTS...handkerchiefs, aprons...that TOUCHED Paul’s body that then God communicates through stuff...God communicates his HEALING ACT, his HEALING POWER
So HERE this happens in Scripture and THAT is why we have that in the Catholic Church
Yes, there are SACRED OBJECTS because they COMMUNICATE GOD’S LOVE
Now, again, it is GOD HIMSELF
It is NOT any kind of SUPERSTITION
It is NOT any believe in the “power of the handkerchief”
It’s that God uses STUFF to reach us
We are MADE of stuff
We are also MADE of spirit
So God works through STUFF by the power of His HOLY SPIRIT to reach our STUFF and to reach our SPIRIT
HOPEFULLY THAT MAKES SENSE!! (What do you say, fellow Catholics? Makes sense to me 😁)
Also, we love the story of The Sons of Sceva who are trying to exorcize this demon
Acts 19:13-17, “...I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches...but the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all residents of Ephesus…”
There is something REALLY REALLY POWERFUL about the reality that the DEMONS know the Christian
They know Paul
Even more powerfully, the demons know JESUS, the only beloved Son of God
They respond to the holy name of Jesus by being OBEDIENT to his powerful name
To play with the name of Jesus is DANGEROUS
To play with that idea that we can cast out any demons without knowing Christ
That would be FOOLHARDY to say the least
Now we have people in Ephesus who practice magic
What did they do?
Acts 19:19, “And a number of them who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.”
Think about this…
How many times do we in our lives do we have something that don’t belong in the hands of a Christian
Whether it be certain movies, music, whatever the thing is
And it has a certain value to it
And here are these Christians in Ephesus
What do they do?
They have something in their possession that should NOT be in their possession
They didn’t go on Ebay and say, “I’ve got these magic books. I’m not into magic anymore because I belong to Jesus. I’m a Christian. So I’m just going to sell these magic books.”
You’re not going to PASS EVIL ON to someone else just because you don’t want evil in YOUR life
You’re not going to make money by selling these evil things to someone else
So what do they do?
They simply DESTROY them
50,000 pieces of silver
This is a HUGE ACT OF TRUST in the Lord
It is a HUGE SACRIFICE and trust in the Lord
“I’m going to divest myself of things that have value for the sake of Jesus Christ, who has ULTIMATE VALUE.”
THAT IS INCREDIBLE!!
Demetrius, the silversmith, made silver shrines to Artemis
They’re all losing their business
Because they’re not worshiping Artemis anymore
THEY ARE WORSHIPING JESUS CHRIST!!
THIS IS A MODEL FOR WHAT WE SHOULD BE AS CHRISTIANS
As Christians We should be SO FULLY HANDED OVER TO THE LORD that the culture around us HAS TO CHANGE
People who were involved in magical arts could have just kept their books, their shrines of Artemis and done what they wanted
What would have happened?
Nothing would have changed
We have these NEW Christians who are SO FULLY SOLD OUT FOR JESUS that they actually destroy the...uh...don’t want to say livelihood of these people who are selling idols...but they destroy the livelihood of these people who are selling idols
Feel sorry for those people…
BUT WHAT A GIFT!!
WHAT AN INCREDIBLE WITNESS!!
They didn't put them out of business by making a new law
They didn’t put them out of business by having a riot or a protest
They simply said, “We are not participating in this destructive and ultimately diabolical practice that other people do in this city. You can count us out of it. Because we are Christians.”
Think of how INCREDIBLE it is when Christians stand together and they simply say, “Oh, we’re not participating in whatever this evil thing is.”
The world around them HAS TO CHANGE
Now it changes through SACRIFICE
50,000 pieces of silver worth
It changes nonetheless
Now on to 2 Corinthians
We get Paul’s heart
Paul’s heart who says, “You know that last letter that I wrote to you, I wrote it so that I didn’t have to say these things to your face.”
He kinda sorta says that!
That is one of the interpretations!!
Paul is saying, “All those corrections that I offered you, I said that so that when I was with you I didn’t have to correct you. I said that so that when I was with you you would have already changed and I would just get to love you and not have to correct you.” Fr. Mike is paraphrasing, OBVIOUSLY!!
What we see here is a SNAPSHOT OF PAUL’S HEART
He just LOVED these people in Corinth
We know why, he lived there for a year and a half
He just gave his heart to them
2 Corinthians 2:1, “For I made up my mind not to make you another painful visit [Coz the first one was pretty painful 😉]. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.”
That is EXACTLY why Paul wrote them that first letter
That is the call of EVERYONE WHO LOVES
“I might have to say these words that are HARD TO HEAR. But I’m not saying them because I want to beat anyone up. I’m not saying this because I want to be God’s policeman. I’m saying this because I LOVE YOU.”
That is what this podcast has been able to do
All the words of your pastors, priests, deacons, bishops, parents even have been able to be spoken to you
So many of us have heard God’s Words through this podcast and we realize, “These are God’s Words of love for me. This is what my pastor/priest/parents have been trying to tell me for all these years. And I was finally able to hear it because I heard God Himself. I heard God’s Word itself spoken to me. And now I kinda sorta am beginning to get it. He loves me and that’s why he told me this. He loves me and cares about me and that’s why he says these words.”
HOPEFULLY THAT MAKES SENSE!!
Maybe it doesn’t
Maybe you’re like, “Nope! I’m fine! I don’t need this!”
Hopefully this is what has been happening to your life because it has happening in Fr. Mike’s life
We are grateful for the last 340 DAYS because they have been an INCREDIBLE GIFT
Not only to Fr. Mike
BUT TO EACH OTHER
Fr. Mike KNOWS we are praying for each other
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much for this day. Thank you so much for the gift of your Son, and the gift of your Holy Spirit. Oh my gosh! Lord God, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit, that gives us the power to cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ That transforms us into your sons and daughters. Help us to always walk in your Spirit. Help us to always walk in your will. Help us to always walk in your grace, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”