Day 342: Generous Hearts
Acts 21:1-14 Paul gave an emotional farewell to the Ephesian elders, truly expecting that he would be imprisoned soon and unable to return to the Church of Ephesus he helped found and nurture. The Holy Spirit had given him this knowledge as well as the strength and resolve to face this persecution with courage. His travel to Jerusalem, where his own “passion” would begin, was reminiscent of Christ’s journey to Jerusalem for his final Passover celebration.
Kneeling down on the beach: Prayer was a frequent touchstone for the Christian communities, and again we see shared prayer of intercession and thanksgiving as Paul departed to take the Gospel to other lands. (CCC 2635-2636)
Ch 21:8 One of the seven: Philip was among the seven deacons ordained by the Apostles to assist their ministry (cf. Acts 6:1-7); this is the same Philip who baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (cf. Acts 8:4-40). (CCC 1569)
Ch 21:10 Agabus: The same prophet who had predicted the worldwide famine (cf. Acts 11:28) now foretold Paul’s arrest.
Ch 21:12 We...begged him not to go: Even Luke and others in Paul’s traveling party tried to dissuade him from traveling to Jerusalem out of concern for his safety.
I am ready...Lord Jesus: Paul knew in his heart that he would die a martyr’s death, which he generously accepted. (CCC 313)
Ch 21:15-26 Paul was well received by the Christian leaders in Jerusalem. They cautioned him, however, that there were rumors about him-a report that Paul had discouraged Jews from following the Law of Moses. The rumor was false; while Paul saw circumcision as unnecessary for Christian converts and believed the Old Law has been superseded by the Law of Christ, he had never appealed to Jews to disregard the Law. (CCC 2196)
Ch 21:18 James the Less was the head of the Jerusalem community. The fact that elders are mentioned instead of Apostles suggests that the eleven surviving Apostles had left Jerusalem by that time for missionary journeys of their own.
Ch 21:20 How many thousands there are: Although some of the Jewish authorities were involved in the trial and Death of Jesus and the persecution of the early Christians, there were also many Jews who had received the Gospel eagerly and converted to following Christ and his teachings. (CCC 595)
Ch 21:23-26 In order to mollify his accusers, James advised Paul to make a show of his fidelity to the Old Law by undergoing a rite of purification linked to his Nazirite vow, Paul took such vows seriously, as we saw earlier (cf. Acts 18:18). (CCC 2102)
Ch 21:27-40 Paul’s detractors from Asia had also come to Jerusalem and incited the Jews against Paul, resulting in his arrest and beating. Roman soldiers took him into custody and saved him from death. He was then granted an opportunity to address the angry crowds. (CCC 674, 755)
Ch 21:28 The charge against Paul of speaking against the Torah and the Temple was similar to the charge made against Stephen, for which he was stoned to death (cf. Acts 7:1-60).
Greeks into the temple: According to Temple Law, Jews worshiped in the inner courts of the temple’s sanctuary, but Gentiles had to remain in the outer courts. Notices threatening death to Gentile trespassers were even posted on the partitions dividing the two areas. The suggestion that Gentiles and Jews could worship side-by-side would have been seen as advocating a serious violation of the Law.
Ch 21:37 Paul’s fluency in Greek raised suspicions that he might be the unnamed Egyptian revolutionary who sparked an insurrection against the Romans not long before.
Ch 22:1-30 Paul recounted for the people his personal history and his conversion story. He kept them in rapt attention until he mentioned his mission to the Gentiles. The death threats shouted by the Jewish people attracted the attention of the Roman authorities, who took him in for questioning preceded by scourging. Paul, once again, appealed to his status as a Roman citizen, who under the law could not be punished without a trial (cf. Acts 16:37-39). Horrified by their error, the tribune and soldiers released Paul and sent him to the Sanhedrin because they suspected the accusations against him were religious in nature. (CCC 1185, 1263-1264)
2 Corinthians 6:1-10 Paul spoke about the many obstacles that await Christ’s followers and the single-minded commitment to living the Gospel regardless of the difficulties.
Now is the acceptable time: Borrowing from Isaiah (cf. Is 49:8), Paul indicated that there was urgency for the Corinthians to repent of sin and pursue sanctity especially, since they did not know how much time was left before Christ returned. The grace of God is received in vain, when there is no cooperation through good dispositions and decisive effort. (CCC 859, 1041)
Ch 6:11-18 Paul asked that the Corinthians return the love that he had for them and urged them to avoid any contact with nonbelievers that might be a threat to their faith. In particular, he urged them to avoid integrating pagan beliefs and practices into the Christian Faith. It is essential for Christians to worship only God through Jesus Christ in spirit and truth.
As to children: Rather than a belittling statement, Paul was merely asserting his role as the spiritual father to the community at Corinth. (CCC 737, 797, 809, 1179)
Ch 6:15 Belial: This Hebrew word means “useless,” or “wickedness,” and was eventually used to refer to Satan.
Ch 6:16-18 The faithful must keep themselves free from pagan impurity and instead live in the dignity that is theirs as children of God. The image of a temple also applies both to the individual Christian and the community of believers. Because we have God dwelling within us by virtue of Baptism, our bodies are sacred places and should be treated as such.
Lord Almighty: Among the attributes of God is his omnipotence. This truth is stated at the outset of both the Apostles’ Creed (“I believe in God, the Father almighty”) and the Nicene Creed (“I believe in one God, the Father almighty”). (CCC 268-278, 760, 1265, 1279)
Ch 7:1-16 Still trying to win back the support of the Corinthians, Paul explained that while he was sorry to have hurt them with his previous letter of rebuke, he did not regret having written it because it led the Corinthians to repentance. He was also pleased that they had reconciled with Titus, who had accompanied Paul at times and whom Paul sent to Corinth for a while. It is not clear what tensions existed between the Corinthians and Titus. (CCC 983-987)]
Ch 7:4 Christ won our salvation through his Sacrifice on the Cross. Likewise, Christians can rejoice in suffering when united to Christ’s Cross. (CCC 1505)
Ch 7:10 Godly grief...worldly grief: Godly grief is the kind of regret that brings contrition and repentance; worldly grief leads to despair and loss of faith and hope. (CCC 1451)
Ch 8:1-15 Paul spent part of his time on his missionary trips taking up a collection for those in need belonging to the Church in Jerusalem, which had been hit by famine. He praised the Macedonians for their generosity in the face of their own troubles, and tactfully urged the Corinthians to do their share as well. Paul taught that it was important that the most impoverished might benefit from the relative wealth of others. (CCC 2831-2833)
Ch 8:3 According to their means: One of the Precepts of the Church requires us to provide for the needs of the Church according to our capacity. To sacrifice part of our income for the poor and the needy, or almsgiving, is a Corporal Work of Mercy. (CCC 2043)
Ch 8:7-24 Just as Christ gave of himself and was detached from material goods, so should the faithful voluntarily respond to the needs of others with alms. Christ became man so we might share in his divinity; he became poor so we could share in his riches. (CCC 517, 1351, 2407, 2546)
Ch 8:14 A matter of equality: From their beginnings in Jerusalem, the Apostles carried the Good News of salvation to the entire world. All who received the Gospel message, like the Corinthians, reaped spiritual benefits. In return, they were to assist the poor in Jerusalem in their hour of need. This action also manifested the communion between local Christian communities as members of the universal Church. (CCC 1351)
Ch 8:15 This quote from Exodus pertains to the collection of manna, the bread that fell from Heaven each morning when the Israelites were in the desert (cf. Ex 16:18). Trusting in divine providence, everyone was assured of receiving exactly what he or she needed. Likewise, we should trust in God to provide for our needs, present and future, when contributing our resources to help others. (CCC 2449)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Ok! We have a lot of readings today 😁
It was kind of smooth sailing for awhile there were only a couple of chapters
These days four chapters a day…SHEESH!!
BUT IT’S BEEN GOOD!!
One of the things we see here in Acts of the Apostles is Paul continues to be on mission
Paul continues to move around
He arrives at Jerusalem
Remember Paul said that he knew the Lord kept telling him he would meet with afflictions and imprisonment when he got to Jerusalem
He’s met with a lot of opposition
We see this growing DIVISION between the SOURCE of Christianity which is Judaism and CHRISTIANITY
The fact that Christianity BEGINS as the fulfillment of Judaism
We see a growing DIVIDE
Which is necessary because of the fact that the Church has discerned that Greeks are able to be full-fledged members of the Body of Christ without circumcision, without having to observe the Jewish Laws
The divide grows wider and wider
So here in Acts Ch 21 Paul visits the Temple
He’s doing all the external things
All the purification rituals
He is doing everything that needs to be done that shows that he is still a good Jew
And that the Jews there did not have to be mad at him
He is falsely accused of bringing this Greek Gentile into the Temple
So this mob comes after him
One of the things we take away from this whole scenario is this GROWING DIVIDE between Judaism and Christianity
WHICH IS HORRIBLE!!
Because Jesus came FIRST to the Jews
First he came to the Covenant People of God
The GOOD news is that there were MANY Jews…THOUSANDS OF JEWS…who came to Christ
We know that is COMPLETELY TRUE
At the same time our Lord wants EVERY ONE OF HIS PEOPLE TO BELONG TO HIM FULLY
So we continue to PRAY
Especially with the history we have
2,000 years of Christians vs. Jews
It becomes a DEADLY and TRAGIC history
So we PRAY in repentance for those things
We also continue to PRAY for those that are people of the Old Covenant that they REALIZE and ENCOUNTER Jesus who is the FULFILLMENT OF EVERYTHING THAT THEY LONG FOR
As he is for US!!
We pray for our brothers and sisters, the Jewish People
Moving on to 2 Corinthians
St. Paul is talking about how he has lived and it is SO POWERFUL
2 Corinthians 6:4-6, “...we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities…[all these things]...[and also by positive things]...by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit…[and even more].”
2 Corinthians 6:7, “...with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute…”
St. Paul is basically saying, “Our mouths are open to you, Corinthians. Our heart is WIDE.”
There is something SO POWERFUL about St. Paul
He is REJOICING in the Corinthians because as he notes in Ch 7, they responded to his last Letter
The First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians was kind of laying the smack-down
“Ok listen, you have to stop doing this. You have to start doing this. Here are all the ways in which you are not living up to your high call of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 7:8, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it), for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.”
Fr. Mike knows what this feels like 😉
Saying a word and being like, “I don’t know I feel like I have to say this word because it’s a hard word and I don’t want to say it but I have to say it I regret it because I’m making you feel bad.” (It’s really fun to read Fr. Mike’s stream of consciousness in the written word…almost makes you dizzy, doesn’t it? I love it though…SO GOOD 😁)
He goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 7:9, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting…”
THAT IS THE KEY!!
I don’t know anyone who likes making people SAD
I don’t know anyone who likes CORRECTING people…maybe actually I take that back…I know a lot of people that really enjoy correcting people
Most of all we don’t want to make people sad
2 Corinthians 7:9, “I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.”
2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.”
That is one of the reasons we are sometimes torn by the idea that people say, “Yeah, live with no regrets because whatever you’ve gone through has brought you to this place, has made you the person you are today.”
Well that’s fine
Maybe the person you are TODAY is WORSE
Maybe we SHOULD regret some of these things
But St. Paul says, “But in Christ, godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret.”
THAT MAKES SENSE!!
Because if I place ALL those things in my past
ALL those horrible things that I have done
If I place them UNDER GOD’S DOMINION
UNDER GOD’S LORDSHIP
Allowing him not only to FORGIVE ME but to also TRANSFORM ME
Then YES all those things contributed to that transformation
That doesn’t mean that those was all good
If we could go back again we would probably not want to do those things
DOES THAT MAKE SENSE??
I HOPE IT MAKES SENSE!!
Now St. Paul wants the Corinthians to be GENEROUS
He wants them to be generous not because he is guilting them into this
He wants them to BE LIKE JESUS
Remember, we talked about how he wants them to be TRANSFORMED
FROM GLORY TO GLORY
BIT BY BIT
MORE GLORY AND MORE GLORY
TO BE LIKE JESUS
So he’s saying in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
He’s saying, “JUST DO THE SAME THING!!”
BE LIKE JESUS!!
That is the WHOLE GOAL of the SPIRITUAL CHRISTIAN LIFE
It is NOT JUST…
Be decent people
Pay your taxes on time
Stay out of jail
Wipe your nose
The POINT is to BE LIKE JESUS
St. Paul is saying, “I need you to be generous. But not because I need you to be generous, but because you need to BE LIKE JESUS, who himself was so generous.”
WHAT A GIFT!!
Here we are on DAY 342 and it has been an INCREDIBLE GIFT to be on this INCREDIBLE JOURNEY with this INCREDIBLE COMMUNITY!!
Fr. Mike KNOWS that we are praying for each other because he gets letters every single day that reveal TRUE MIRACLES!!
Everything from someone just being grateful that they have been able to get this far into the Bible and their hearts have been CHANGED!!
People going to Confession for the first time in YEARS!!
People going back to MASS!!
People achieving pregnancy when it was thought to be IMPOSSIBLE!!
ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING BECAUSE OF GOD’S GRACE
AND BECAUSE OF YOUR PRAYERS FOR EACH OTHER!!!
SO PLEASE KEEP PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER!!
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much. Thank you for giving us older siblings in Christ, who had been willing to suffer for your name. Who had been willing to give of their lives, to give up everything, so that years later we can hear your Word. Years later, we can know who you are, we can know your heart, and we can become part of your family. Thank you, Lord, for those people who are named in today’s readings. Thank you for Paul, of course. Also, thank you for all of those Ephesians. Thank you for all of those people who supported Paul, all those Corinthians who repented at his Letter. We thank you for the people who brought us to you in our lives. If we had Sunday school teachers, thank you for them Lord God. If we had people who taught us religious education, or people who taught us to read the Bible, or people who taught us how to say The Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, thank you Lord. Thank you for our parents. If we have parents, Lord God, that showed us who you are, thank you for them. Help us to take one step closer to you, maybe many steps closer to you. And for those who maybe it was their job to do that and they didn’t do it, or they did it poorly, or they didn’t do it at all, they worked against it, Lord God we ask you to please meet them with your love. Let this moment be a moment for them where they can come to know you. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”