Day 344: The Thorn in Paul's Side

Acts 23 1-11 The details of Paul’s trials relate closely to the trials of Christ. Both were falsely accused, sent before both civil and religious authorities, and struck in the face by the order of the high priest. What differs markedly is that while Christ said little in his own defense, Paul was quite vocal in the course of his own trials. Christ’s mission was to die for our sins; Paul’s mission was to give witness to the Gospel and die for Christ. (CCC 2473)

Ch 23:5 Nothing here offers a clue as to why Paul did not recognize Ananias as the high priest, but his apology, with its citation from the Jewish code of Law, indicates that he highly respected the authority of the Law. (CCC 1898)

Ch 23:6-10 Paul employed a divide-and-conquer strategy. Realizing that his audience was split between Pharisees (who believed in the resurrection) and the Sadducees (who did not), Paul announced his identification with the Pharisees. The argument that ensued won him some supporters from among the Pharisees. (CCC 993)

Ch 23:12-35 Upon learning of a plot by a large number of Jews to seize and kill Paul, the Roman tribune ordered a change of venue and sent Paul to be tried in Caesarea under the Roman judicial system. (CCC 2242, 2245, 2273)

Ch 23:26-30 The tribune, in his letter to Felix, white-washed the facts in claiming that he initially had saved Paul from being beaten by the mob because he knew Paul was a Roman citizen.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Speaking of himself in the third person, Paul revealed that he had been granted a vision of Heaven among other supernatural experiences, but at the same time a “thorn” was also given to him by Satan. He accepted this suffering because the power of Christ is perfected in such weakness. It is not clear whether this thorn represented an illness, a disability, the constant opposition he faced, a particular temptation, or some other nagging obstacle. (CCC 1508)

Ch 12:2 The third heaven: Jewish terminology of that day spoke of three levels of the heavens: the first was the atmosphere; the second was the layer that contained the sun and stars; and the third heaven was Paradise, or what we would simply regard today as Heaven. (CCC 326)

Ch 12:9 My grace is sufficient: Rather than remove the thorn, God allowed Paul to experience redemptive suffering and the strengthening grace necessary to endure his pain for his own purification. The personal experience of suffering should prompt the individual to find strength and solace in the heart of Christ. (CCC 268, 273)

Ch 12:11-21 Anticipating his next visit to Corinth, Paul assured the Christians there that he would always put their best interests first and would not be a burden to them. He confessed, though, that he was concerned that many of the people might have slipped back into sinful lives and that the visit might be a sad and contentious one. Some apparently had not repented of their sins and perhaps still supported the false apostles. (CCC 2744)

Ch 13:1-13 In closing, Paul asked the members of the community to examine their consciences and to strive for truth and all that is morally right. (CCC 648)

Ch 13:1 Under the Law of Moses, at least two witnesses were needed to prove an assertion in court. Those who failed to repent would receive a fair trial when Paul arrived. 

Ch 13:4 Crucified in weakness: In being arrested, insulted, beaten, interrogated, and finally crucified with little or no self-defense, Christ appeared weak in human terms. Nonetheless, he chose to endure all of that in order to save us from our sins and reconcile us to God. Paul compared himself to Christ insofar as his sufferings won many graces in his work of evangelization and his quest for personal sanctity. (CCC 648)

Ch 13:13 This verse, which is one of the most lucid Trinitarian doxologies in the New Testament, is among the options by which the bishop or priest can greet the congregation at the beginning of Mass. Reconciliation with God and his Church is the starting point for a deeper participation in the life of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 249-256, 685, 734, 1109, 2627)

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

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much for this. Thank you for this day. Thank you for your Word. We thank you for speaking to us and for pushing us. Thank you for inviting us into our weakness. Thank you for inviting us to a place of humility, to a place where we need to place our trust in you. Help us to put our trust in you this day and every day in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”