Day 345: One in Christ
Acts 24:1-27 Before the procurator Felix, Paul denied any wrongdoing of the sort of which he was accused, yet his imprisonment continued. Paul pointed out that he worshiped the same God and read the same Scripture as the Jews, but won little support by those claims.
Ch 24:5 Sect of the Nazarenes: This was another, less common name for the Christians.
Ch 24:6 other ancient authorities add verses 6-8: “...and would have judged him according to our law. But the chief captain Lysias came and with great violence took him out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come before you.”
Ch 24:15 The bodies of both the just and unjust will be resurrected at the end of time. They will be judged and sentenced to either Heaven or Hell, based on their fidelity to the Gospel and good works. This is referred to as the Last or Final Judgment. (CCC 1038)
Ch 24:16 A clear conscience: It is an obligation of all believers to develop a “well-formed conscience” that knows the moral law and applies it to concrete actions. (CCC 1794, 2471)
Ch 24:17 Paul alluded to one of his purposes in coming to Jerusalem: to deliver the money he had collected from the other Christian communities to help support the Church there.
Ch 24:24-26 Drusilla: A daughter of Herod Agrippa I and the third wife of Felix.
Alarmed: Paul’s preaching on justice and judgment bothered the procurator and his wife.
Hoped that money…Paul: Felix knew about the collection Paul had delivered to the Jerusalem Christians. Thinking he had access to such funds, Felix may have hoped that Paul would offer to bribe his way out of prison.
The Letter of Paul to the Galatians
St. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Galatians, which is considered, along with Romans and 1-2 Corinthians, one of his “great” Epistles.
Although written earlier than the other three, Galatians is placed fourth in order because it is the shortest of the group.
Galatians probably was written between AD 52 and 56.
Some scholars have suggested a date as early as AD 48 inasmuch as it is not immediately clear to which churches of Galatia St. Paul was writing; he had founded churches in southern Galatia on his first missionary journey and in northern Galatia on his second journey.
The reference to his visit to Jerusalem with Sts. Barnabas and Titus could refer to the Council of Jerusalem about AD 49; if so, then the later dating of the Epistle seems more credible.
The identity of the Galatians is not entirely clear.
Celtic or Gallic tribes known as “Galatians” had long lived in the region even before the formal establishment of the Roman province of Galatia in 25 BC, so St. Paul might have been addressing this particular ethnic group.
It may also have been addressed, more generally, to the diverse residents of the entire Galatian province.
Whatever the case, by the time St. Paul wrote the Epistle, Jewish converts had become part of the community and were causing problems by demanding that Gentile converts conform to the Old Covenant by being circumcised-the very issue that prompted the Council of Jerusalem a few years earlier.
As in parts of Second Corinthians, St. Paul defended himself against attacks on his ministry and credibility.
The “Judaizers” who were insisting on Gentile circumcision and the observance of the rituals of the Mosaic Law directly contradicted St. Paul’s preaching on justification apart from the Law.
Every Christian becomes a member of the New Israel through Baptism and is, in fact, not only a descendant of Abraham but also a child of God, a new creation in Christ (cf. 4:1-7; 6:15-16).
St. Paul’s response to these detractors is presented in three parts.
In the first two chapters, he presents a biographical defense of his apostolate.
The next two chapters contain a summary of the key elements of the Gospel he preaches, including themes on justification, divine filiation, and the Old and New Covenants (which he developed later in his Epistle to the Romans).
Lastly, the final segment is an elaboration of freedom from the Mosaic Law.
The Old Law was impossible for anyone to keep perfectly, but the New Law of Christ, which perfects the Old Law and the Commandments, can now be kept perfectly through the gift of grace as we strive to live according to the New Commandment of Love, which is the foundation of all the Commandments.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Galatians 1-5 Paul is introduced as an Apostle, although not one of the original Twelve chosen by Christ. His calling as an Apostle came directly from Christ, who appeared to him on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:1-22). (CCC 659, 857)
Ch 1:4 Gave himself: Completely united to the will of his Father, Christ offered himself as a most pleasing Sacrifice for our sins.
The present evil age: Essentially, the period of time before the end of the world, when Christ will complete his triumph and evil will be destroyed. This phrase also signifies the presence of sin and evil that every follower of Christ must face. (CCC 599, 601-602, 2824)
Ch 1:6-10 Departing from his custom, Paul offered the Galatians no initial praise but rather a rebuke, signaling the tone of his letter. It seems he was having similar troubles with the Church in Galatia as he had in Corinth, namely, that others were preaching a Gospel contrary to what he had left them. The nature of the controversy involved Judaizers, i.e., converts from Judaism who insisted that Gentile converts to Christianity must first submit to the Law of Moses and be circumcised. Circumcision was the physical sign of the Old Covenant between God and Israel, which prefigured the sacramental signs of the New Covenant in Christ. Because the New Covenant superseded and fulfilled the Old, circumcision was no longer mandatory and, at times, represented an attachment to the Old Law rather than an acceptance of the freedom of the New Law. At the time scholars believe that this letter was written (AD 54-55), Christianity was still widely seen as a sect of Judaism, leading many to believe that Gentiles had to become Jews before being baptized as Christians. Paul implied that it was not he who was trying to please men but the Judaizers, who preached circumcision so those who remained Jews would not persecute them. Paul preached dispensation from the Old Covenant without fear of persecution. (CCC 1150)
Ch 1:11-24 Again, Paul had to defend his call as an Apostle. He recounted his persecution of the first Christians and mentioned his dramatic call in grace and his early contact with Cephas (Peter), the head of the Church. His purpose was to show that he, like the first Apostles, received his mission directly from Christ and that he was in communion with Peter, the head and teaching authority of the Church.
Called in grace: Strikingly, Paul did not mention his conversion but described his vocation like that of an Old Testament prophet. (CCC 153, 442, 659, 861-863)
Ch 1:13 Paul was famously present at the stoning of Stephen, one of the first deacons of the Church, and was en route to Damascus to arrest more Christians when he had his moving encounter with Christ. His zeal for persecution was turned into zeal for the Gospel,
Church: Depending on the context, the term can mean the faithful assembled at the liturgy, the local Christian community, or the universal community of believers; this usage falls into the third definition. (CCC 752)
Ch 1:15 Set me apart: Paul believed he had been consecrated for his apostolic mission before birth. He received the gift of faith, not through merit or effort, but by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enlightens the mind and moves the will to accept the teachings of Christ as the ultimate truth and fulfillment of human life. (CCC 153, 442)
Ch 1:16-18 I did not confer…: Paul preached three years concerning the inexhaustible riches of Christ, a teaching manifested by his radical conversion to the Faith.
To visit Cephas: The Greek text carries the connotation not only of getting to know Cephas (Peter) but also of questioning him at length. The implication is that Paul probed Peter for details about Christ and his ministry so as to confirm and add to his knowledge and enhance his preaching. His focus on Peter also points to the primacy of Peter among the Apostles. (CC 659, 880-887)
Ch 1:19-20 The Lord’s brother: The word used here does not mean a literal brother but some degree of male relative. Therefore, this poses no conflict with the Church doctrine that Mary, the Mother of God, remained a virgin her entire life.
Before God, I do not lie: A legitimate oath by Paul. To call upon God to attest to one’s honesty requires a serious claim about a particular truth. An oath must not be used on trivial matters or to lend credibility to a lie or deception. (CCC 499-500, 2154)
Ch 2:1-10 The Council of Jerusalem considered the very issue of whether Gentiles had to be circumcised before becoming Christians (cf. Acts 15). It was decided that there was no such requirement, and a letter to that effect was sent to the various churches around and outside Judea. This was the first recorded collegial act of the magisterial authority of the early Church and an example for the twenty-one Ecumenical Councils of the Church that would follow over the course of two millennia. The Magisterium today is exercised by the bishops of the Church throughout the world, with the Pope as their head, each exercising pastoral care over their particular flocks as well as over the entire Church. (CCC 553, 883, 886)
Ch 2:2 I laid before them…run in vain: Paul submitted to Peter and the Apostles in Jerusalem to ensure that he was authorized to preach and that his teachings were sound. This is another strong indication of the established Magisterium dating back to the earliest days of Christianity. (CCC 85-90, 119, 194, 553)
Ch 2:7-10 Paul’s mission to the Gentiles and Peter’s mission to the Jews were not mutually exclusive; both preached and ministered to Jews and Gentiles alike. Nor does this indicate a geographical division, as both men traveled widely in Asia and Europe, both were in Rome at the time of their deaths.
James and Cephas and John: Peter is normally mentioned first among the Apostles; this is an exception. However, Paul may have wanted to emphasize the approval of James (“the Less”), the head of the local Church in Jerusalem, where the Jewish Law was still observed, for the exemption from following the Jewish rituals and religious customs. (CCC 74, 77079, 84-87, 755, 781)
Ch 2:10 Remember the poor: Paul took this request very seriously. It led to his strong initiative to take up a collection among all the Gentile churches for the Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering poverty. (CCC 2444)
Ch 2:11-21 The Church in Antioch was the first to be established in which Jewish converts and Gentile converts to Christianity worshiped together. It was also the first local church to organize evangelization efforts toward other Gentile communities. Peter’s duplicity at Antioch was rebuffed by Paul, who feared that Peter’s withdrawal from the table of the Gentile converts in the presence of visiting Judaizers might have given the false impression that Christians should still observe the Law of Moses. Paul argued that if keeping the Old Law was still necessary for salvation, it would follow that failure to uphold the Law would be sinful. If redemption were only possible through the Law of Moses, then there would have been no reason for Christ to become man or to die for our sins. The New Law in Christ is based on love, grace, and freedom; it perfects the Old Law; frees us from its ritual and juridical norms, and restores the original spirit of the divine law. (CCC 1972)
Ch 2:12 Jewish Law disapproved of socializing with Gentiles, particularly when it came to sharing a meal. There was concern that Jewish dietary laws might be violated by serving meat sacrificed to idols or food traditionally considered “unclean,” or which had been prepared in a manner that violated the strict Law of Moses. Furthermore, Peter’s action was inconsistent with the vision informing him that the old dietary laws had been suspended and that Gentiles were welcome in the Church the same as the Jews.
Men came from James…the circumcision party: Christians from Jerusalem who sided with the Judaizers. It is not clear whether or not they came of their own accord. (CCC 582)
Ch 2:14 The purpose of Paul’s public correction of Peter was to point out to him that his action was inconsistent with his own policy drawn up at the Council of Jerusalem. (CCC 2505, 2468)
Ch 2:16 Justified: Righteous, or in a good and proper relationship with God. One of Paul’s central teachings was that we are justified by the grace of God gratuitously bestowed upon us through no merit or work of our own. Hence, Paul’s teaching that we are justified by faith and not by works. (CCC 1987-2005)
Ch 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ: By uniting himself to the Cross of Christ, Paul indicated he had died to his former ways, particularly enslavement to sin.
Lives in me: Through the grace of Baptism coupled with a life brimming with deeds inspired by love, the life of Christ intensifies in an individual.
Who loved me: By using the pronoun “me,” Paul stressed that Christ died and now lives for each individual person. (CCC 478, 616-618, 1262-1270, 1380)
Ch 3:1-14 Salvation is through Christ and not through the observance of the Law. Paul reminded the Galatians that Abraham was blessed for his faith long before the Law was given to Moses. The Law corresponded to the fallen nature of man caused by Original Sin by reminding the Jewish people of their sinful state and giving them directives to control sinful actions. Christ’s Death and Resurrection, however, liberates us from our sinful nature and at the same time gives us the grace to live the charity of Christ that goes beyond the Law. (CCC 59, 706)
Ch 3:1 Publicly portrayed as crucified: Paul preached “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2) because by the Blood of Christ humanity is redeemed. The Body of Christ is properly represented in paintings, statues, and other artistic mediums for the purpose of veneration. (CCC 476-477, 479-480, 613-618)
Ch 3:2 The Galatians received the Holy Spirit when they were first baptized. This was the ultimate confirmation of their Christian Faith, so it would have been senseless to require them to have been circumcised in order to be considered Christians.
Under a curse: The Law defines what is sin and what is not, yet no one can keep the Law perfectly; therefore, sinful man cannot save himself; and no one can merit justification without faith in Christ and the grace he provides. (CCC 59, 578-580)
Ch 3:13-14 Under the Mosaic Law, those who were put to death for their crimes were considered cursed by God. They were hung from trees so as to deter God’s judgment from the Israelites (cf. Nm 25:4; Dt 21:23). By bearing our sins and being hanged from the Cross, Christ took on the curse of sin and death and averted judgment on humanity.
Promise of the Spirit: Rendered in some translations as “Spirit of the promise,” one of several descriptive names given to the Holy Spirit in Scripture. (CCC 580, 693)
Ch 3:15-29 The covenant God made with Abraham predated the Law of Moses by over 400 years. Although Israel would break later covenants, the Abrahamic covenant remained in force. The Law of Moses served as a preparation for the arrival of the Messiah and his New Covenant. Though there was no uncertainty regarding the Law, access to the fullness of grace, which would enable God’s people to abide by the Law consistently and habitually, would only be possible with the coming of Christ, Because the New Covenant of grace replaced the Old Covenant, the true children of Abraham are those who believe and adhere to the teachings of Christ, (CCC 59-61, 708, 1961-1964)
Ch 3:16 Because Ishmael was excluded from the covenant with Abraham, the promise continued through Isaac. When God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham demonstrated his complete trust and obedience to God. Isaac is thus seen as a type, or prefigurement, of Christ, the son of God, whom God the Father sent to be sacrificed to redeem humanity from sin (TYPOLOGY!!). (CCC 706)
Ch 3:19-20 Ordained by angels: A Jewish tradition suggested that angels handed Moses the scrolls of the Torah.
An intermediary: God often uses intermediaries, both human and angelic-in this instance, Moses, who presented the Law to the Israelites-to communicate his will to his people; we also use intermediaries and even act as intermediaries for others in intercessory prayer. (CCC 2635, 2647)
Ch 3:24 God gave the Israelites the Law to be their pedagogue, or teacher. While the Law prepared them for Christ, it could not remove sin or justify. This could only be accomplished by the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. (CCC 582, 1709, 1961-1963, 2009)
Ch 3:27-28 Baptism cleanses us from sin, makes us children of God, and binds us to Christ. It is the Sacrament of faith that replaces the obligation to circumcision.
Put on Christ: A reference to the early Church practice in which the newly baptized put on white garments, a symbol of purity in Christ.
You are all one: Everyone who believes and is baptized is a member of the Mystical Body of Christ and, therefore, is united to each other as children of God. For this reason, there is no advantage given to a particular race or people. (CCC 791, 1227, 1243, 1425, 2348)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
So it kind of reminds me that at the end of today’s prayer, “That time we spend with you Jesus, let that change us.”
Remember early on in the Acts of the Apostles when they saw the Apostles they recognized that they had been with Jesus
And we look at ourselves after 345 DAYS and ask, “Ok God would people now looking at me recognize that I spend time with you? Would they recognize that I allow your character and your thoughts and what you love and what you hate to shape my heart, my thoughts, and how I live, and what I love, and what I hate?”
There is something POWERFUL there
We can remain UNCONVERTED
In Acts Ch 24 that is kind of what we have in Felix
Felix is a big man in town
Paul makes a defense before him
Felix has a Jewish wife Drusilla
So you would think that’s kind of a bonus
Yes it is
And yes it isn’t
Drusilla had been married before to a king from a small kingdom in a small nation
So Felix was able to convince her to leave her small king husband for him
“Yeah, I’m more connected to the Roman Empire than him.”
Or however he convinced her
The reality is that Felix and Drusilla both have a certain character
Not only about that, her leaving her husband
But also history books have indicated that Felix was a man who was not necessarily a good man
At the same time, this snapshot we get in Acts Ch 24 is kind of like a Herod character
Remember how Herod longed to see Jesus
Actually before that even, Herod wanted to hear from John the Baptist
John was accusing Herod of living with his brothers wife and how that was wrong
Here it says in the Gospels that Herod still liked to listen to John
Here we have the case of Felix
Paul is preaching to Felix
It is very fascinating
Acts 24:25, “And as he [Paul] argued about justice and self-control and future judgment, Felix was alarmed…”
Felix is alarmed reveals us something about Felix
Not only was he convicted by Paul’s preaching
He also remain UNMOVED
Even after he was CONVICTED he remained UNMOVED
Because what does he say?
Acts 24:25-27, “Go away for the present; when I have an opportunity I will summon you. But when two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.”
So we can be really COMPELLED by the Lord
We can be really COMPELLED by God's Grace
He can open up our hearts in all these ways
UNLESS WE ACT ON THAT THERE IS NO CHANGE
UNLESS WE ACT ON WHAT WE BELIEVE THERE IS NO CHANGE
Now onto St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians
It’s not that long, it’s only six chapters
Half of it today, Chs 1-3
The background for St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians is…you know the background
Paul went to the region of Galatia and established these churches
He proclaimed Jesus Christ
These Gentiles came to faith in Jesus Christ
Then what happened?
Just like in Corinth, people followed Paul and started to say, “You have to get circumcised in order to experience the fullness of the Christian faith, in order to experience the fullness of what it is to follow Jesus Christ.”
And the Galatians had believed them
Here is St. Paul saying, “Listen, the way in which I have preached the Gospel to you was NOT about the Law. It was NOT about obeying the ritual laws of Judaism, of circumcision, of kosher meals, of ritual purity. But, it was FAITH. It was the faith that came to you when Jesus Christ was proclaimed. And in fact, remember the Holy Spirit that came upon you, when we prayed for the Holy Spirit, just like in Ephesus and those Gentiles were prayed with and they received the power of the Holy Spirit and all these other occasions we heard about.”
Not only that…
St. Paul also adds, “It makes sense that you might be a little confused because there was this guy named Cephas. You all know Cephas. Here is the Al Habayit (Now he doesn’t say the word Al Habayit but we all know that Peter is the ONE OVER THE HOUSE, he is the PRIME MINISTER) and even HE was insincere.”
When Paul was living amongst the Gentiles, he was eating like a Gentile
He was not eating according to the Jewish customs
When a group of Jews were really holding strong that you needed to eat according to the Jewish customs arrived, then Cephas (Peter) began to shrink back and wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore
He would observe the Jewish customs in the presence of the Jewish Christians
Paul said, “I publicly opposed him to his face because he was in the wrong.”
THAT IS TRUE!!
Sometimes people say, “Oh the Pope was wrong?”
And we Catholics say, “Yeah!”
INFALLIBLE does not mean IMPECCABLE
IMPECCABLE means WITHOUT SIN
INFALLIBLE means DOES NOT TEACH ERROR
And we DO NOT SAY that the Pope or the Holy Father or even the first Pope here, Peter that EVERYTHING THEY TEACH is without error
There are CERTAIN CONDITIONS to teach WITHOUT ERROR
For example, the first Pope, St. Peter, spoke without error when he preached the Sermon at Pentecost
He preached without error when he wrote 1 and 2 Peter
In this case though, he was insincere
You might say he was a hypocrite
BUT ULTIMATELY HE WAS WRONG IN HOW HE LIVED
And Paul opposed him to his face
THAT WAS VERY IMPORTANT
Because Peter was in the wrong and St. Paul shows the people in Galatia that what they are counting on is NOT the Law
What they are counting on HAS to be the Holy Spirit
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
THIS IS SO SO IMPORTANT!!
The Holy Spirit comes to us WHEN WE ASK HIM
The Holy Spirit comes to us BY THE NAME OF JESUS
The Holy Spirit comes to us THROUGH BAPTISM
The Holy Spirit comes to us THROUGH CONFIRMATION
The Holy Spirit comes to us IN SO MANY WAYS that the Lord just wants us to have ACCESS TO HIMSELF
The Lord wants us to have ACCESS TO THE FATHER
HE HAS REDEEMED US!!
The Law had its purpose
Galatians 3:25-26, “So that the law was our custodian until Christ came.”
On your way to school there was a custodian, guardian, or teacher who brought you to school to make sure you learned your lesson
So St. Paul is here in Ch 3 saying, “Yeah that’s what the Law was. It was our guardian. It was our custodian UNTIL CHRIST CAME that we may be JUSTIFIED BY FAITH.”
Galatians 3:25-26, “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
This KEY was obviously AFFIRMED by the Council of Jerusalem in Acts Ch 15
We already heard about the Council of Jerusalem
The Holy Spirit and the Apostles and the First Pope determined that you do not have to get circumcised in order to have the FULLNESS OF THE FAITH
Simply Baptized to live out the Christian Faith, not necessarily the Jewish faith
How do people experience this?
They experience this equally
It is IMPORTANT for us
St. Paul is making it VERY VERY CLEAR
It is not SOME people who experience the faith
It is NOT you have to be a man or you have to be a free person or you have to be a Jew
Galatians 3:26-28, “In Jesus Christ…there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
That is not negating the REALITY OF MALE AND FEMALE
It is not negating the REALITY OF JEW OR GREEK
It is not negating the REALITY OF SLAVE OR FREE
What it is SAYING is there is an EQUALITY there
EVERYONE experiences the EQUALITY OF GRACE
EVEN AMONGST THE DIFFERENCES
Jew or Greek
Slave or Free
Male or Female
Does that make sense?
WE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS!!
So the ultimate point St. Paul is making is EVERYONE HAS BECOME AN HEIR, IN BAPTISM, TO THE PROMISES OF THE FATHER
The promises that God made all the way back to Abraham
HOPEFULLY THAT MAKES SENSE!!
When we get to Paul’s Letters, there is so much stuff that we can break down
So much that we can learn from him
So that’s nice to go through Galatians over two days
To be able to ABSORB IT
Maybe REWIND AND TAKE IT BACK IN
REWIND AND TAKE IT BACK IN
What is it that God is saying through St. Paul’s Letters?
Not just Galatians, but ALL THESE LETTERS that we are going to be diving into more deeply in the days to come
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. We thank you. Thank you for this day. Thank you for a new day, Day 345, just being able to…gosh, Lord we have twenty days left…twenty days left of listening to your Word. Twenty days left of being able to just be penetrated by your Word, to soak in your Word, to be able to be transformed by your Word. Help us to not simply be informed by your Word, but be transformed by your Word. Help us not just to learn about you but to become like you. Let this time we spend with you change us. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”