Day 348: Rules for the New Life
Acts 27:1-44 Paul was by now very familiar with the perils of the sea; according to a reference in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians (cf. 2 Cor 11:25), he had already experienced shipwreck three times before setting sail for Rome. His warnings of disaster went unheeded, but his recommendations (assisted by an angel) were appreciated once his shipmates found themselves close to perishing. His advice saved all the remaining crew and passengers. (CCC 334)
Ch 27:9 The fast had already gone by: The Jewish Feast of the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is a day of fasting that fell in late September that year. For ships at that time, the Mediterranean was considered too dangerous to sail from about November to mid-March, so the travel window was coming to a close. (CCC 578)
Ch 27:35 It is not clear whether this verse indicates that Paul celebrated the Eucharist or simply shared a meal with the others. Giving thanks and breaking bread described both the rituals of the Eucharist and ordinary Jewish meals. Given the unlikelihood that the ship’s crew was Christian, breaking bread probably refers to the latter.
Ephesians 4:1-10 The rest of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians largely comprises teachings on morality. The Church is one Body in Christ, which is strengthened and renewed through love. Faith and sanctifying grace through Baptism bring Christians into a communion with Christ and one another that goes beyond gender, race, and social position. Just as there is only one Christ, there is only one Church, one Baptism, and one Faith. While Catholics are part of a local community, they are also members of the universal, or catholic, Church. (CCC 249, 813-814, 886, 2219)
Ch 4:1-6 All the faithful are united in the Mystical Body of Christ as adopted children of the Father. The “sign of peace” extended among members of the faithful in the liturgy is a sign of this communion. (CCC 805, 957-959, 1092, 1301-1302)
Ch 4:4-6 The Unity of the Church is expressed in the Nicene Creed and is one of the four “marks” of the Church: “I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”
One God: This affirmation begins the Nicene Creed, and all the other articles of the Faith proceed from this belief. (CCC 199, 750, 810-812)
Ch 4:7 Every member of the Church has been endowed with special gifts by the Holy Spirit that are intended to be used for the good of the Church. In the present context, Paul wrote more specifically about the gifts of the Church’s ordained ministers. (CCC 799-801, 913, 951)
Ch 4:8-10 Paul might have been referring to Christ’s descent to earth in the Incarnation, but more likely he meant his descent to the abode of the dead after his own Death, where he opened the gates of Paradise to the souls of the just awaiting their redemption. (CCC 611, 631-635, 661, 668)
Ch 4:11-16 The role of Apostles, prophets, and others in the Church’s ministry is to build up Christ’s Mystical Body so its members can become more transformed into the very image of Christ. Christ gives us the grace and assistance we need to help one another on the path to eternal life.
Speaking the truth in love: In order to articulate the fullness of the truth it must be always articulated in a spirit of charity.
Joined and knit together: Paul used similar words to describe the Temple (cf. Eph 2:21). This connection of imagery reinforces the tenet of the Faith that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. (CCC 669, 794, 798, 1575, 2003-2004)
Ch 4:13 Every human person is called to be part of the People of God, the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The Church and all her members must increase in number and in holiness until the Church represents Christ to perfection. (CCC 158, 674, 695, 954, 1939, 2045)
Ch 4:17-32 Paul described the implications of living a new life in Christ and his truth. As a new creation, those who live by faith have put off their old, corrupt ways and are renewed in spirit. This new life and renewal in spirit simply means that every baptized person can reflect the life of Christ in his goodness, love, and mercy. It is important to bear in mind that conformity to the life of Christ requires serious effort. (CCC 1473, 1695, 1971, 2518)
Ch 4:22-24 The predicate “put on” reminds us of the white garments that are placed on a newly baptized person. The baptized die to sin and are raised to a new life in Christ. Hence, the image of “putting on Christ” indicates the supernatural life superimposed on our own natural life. (CCC 1267-1270, 1702-1705, 2475, 2504)
Ch 4:25-28 Among the vices that Paul decreed are lying, unbridled anger, stealing, profanity, slander, and divisiveness; these should be replaced with the virtues of kindness, empathy, and mercy and exercised in a spirit of solidarity. (CCC 1267, 2444, 2475-2487)
Ch 4:29-32 Sealed for the day of redemption: In Baptism and especially Confirmation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit by way of an indelible character that marks us for all eternity as children of God and heirs to his Kingdom. This is evident in the sacramental form of Confirmation: “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 698, 1274, 1296, 2842)
Ch 4:30 In whom you were sealed: The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders place an indelible seal on the soul. Baptism unites us to Christ and his Mystical Body, while Confirmation completes the process of initiation begun in Baptism and strengthens us in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. By remaining faithful to our baptismal faith, we have hope in life everlasting with Christ in Heaven. (CCC 1121, 1278-1280)
Ch 4:32 This teaching is reflected in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (CCC 2227)
Ch 5:1-7 Holiness consists in putting into practice everything Christ taught. Since impurity, idolatry, and greed exclude us from Heaven, it is important to avoid being influenced by those who by their words or actions can lead us into sin.
Gave himself up…sacrifice: To love as Christ loves is to sacrifice our very lives for God and neighbor. We can unite our own personal sacrifices to those of Christ most perfectly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (CCC 614, 616, 1368, 1694)
Ch 5:3-5 Not even be named: Believers must not only refrain from sexual sins but also avoid talking or even thinking about such things.
Idolater: Placing pleasures or things of the world as absolutes is idolatry. Without constant vigilance, even the baptized can fall into idolatry. (CCC 1852, 1861, 2113, 2351-2359)
Ch 5:8-20 Baptism casts light amid the darkness of sin and illuminates the path to holiness. To walk along this path is to seek friendship with Christ, practice moderation, and to praise and thank God constantly for all he has done for us. Since time is short for following Christ and carrying out his work of evangelization, we must turn every moment of our lives into an occasion for deeds of love. (CCC 672, 1216, 1695, 2633, 2742)
Ch 5:14 The verse cited here is not from Scripture but is likely from an early baptismal hymn. (CCC 635, 2641)
Ch 5:18 Intoxication with alcohol and other substances reduces our ability to reason and stifles our will, and thus makes it impossible to live according to the Spirit. We should be examples of temperance and moderation in the consumption of food and alcohol. (CCC 1809, 2826)
Ch 5:19 Hymns and musical accompaniment were already part of the liturgical experience of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament and were adapted to Christianity. This tradition has continued to be developed throughout Church history, incorporating a variety of styles, languages, and instruments in keeping with a diversity of cultures and tastes. (CCC 1156, 2633, 2641, 2742)
Ch 5:21-33 Among Paul’s most misunderstood texts, this passage on the relationship between a husband and a wife reflects the sacramental nature of Holy Matrimony. Against the customs of his day, Paul portrayed husband and wife as partners with equal dignity. Spouses reflect the love of Christ, who is the Bridegroom, and the Church, his Bride. Moreover, the spousal relationship between a husband and a wife draws strength and unity from union with Christ through prayer and the Sacraments. Together they form one flesh, an indissoluble and exclusive union marked by sacrificial and faithful love toward each other. (CCC 772-776, 808, 1348, 1603, 1605, 1614-1615, 1638-1644, 2201-2204
Ch 5:25-26 As Christ loved…her: Christ endured his Passion and Death out of complete love for all people. Husbands, too, must stand ready to sacrifice everything, even their very lives, for their wives.
That he might sanctify her: The Church is Holy but not perfect. She is holy because Christ has made her so by her affiliation with him; yet, she is imperfect because of the sins of her members. She is called to strive for perfection in this life but will not achieve such perfection until the next life. (CCC 616, 823-826, 829)
Ch 5:26-27 Cleansed her…without blemish: According to this image of Baptism, men are to cherish and love their wives just as Christ loves and sanctifies his Church. (CCC 757, 773, 796, 1426, 1659, 1667)
Ch 5:31-33 Christ redeemed marriage and elevated it to the dignity it once enjoyed at the beginning of creation: a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman, oriented toward the good of the spouses and the begetting and raising of children. Paul called marriage a “great mystery” because it is a sign of the union between Christ and his Church, endowed with sacramental grace. (The words “sacrament” and “mystery” are both translated from the Greek mysterion; members of the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church refer to the Sacraments as “Mysteries.”)
Ch 6:1-4 The parent-child relationship must be based upon mutual respect and governed by the Fourth Commandment. Children owe their parents obedience, and parents owe their children the respect in correspondence to their dignity as sons and daughters of God. Parents should avoid abusive and unreasonable disciplinary measures that can rob children of their dignity. Parents, in addition to providing for the physical needs and education of their children, must invest time and diligence in forming their children in Christian piety and virtue. (CCC 2197-2200, 2212-2218, 2221-2230, 2196, 2286)
Ch 6:4 The Church affirms that parents are the primary educators of their children, particularly when it comes to catechesis and formation in the Faith, morals, and the spiritual life. (CCC 1653, 2688)
Ch 6:5-9 Slavery was common and accepted in Paul’s day. Paul elevated the master-slave relationship, cautioning slaves to perform their work well and “with a good will.” Masters are reminded that they themselves, along with their servants, are subject ultimately to the divine Master, who does not recognize any difference between master and slave. Paul’s call for the dignity of the servant gradually led to the movement to abolish slavery in many places. (CCC 791, 1589, 1905-1912, 1929-1938, 2414)
Ch 6:10-24 Christians must be fully committed to the Gospel and take advantage of every spiritual resource if they are to rise victorious in the battle against evil. It is a battle not primarily against human persons but against demonic spirits, which must be fought with the spiritual weapons given to us by God and include the truth and righteousness of the Gospel; the practice of the Faith; the meditation on the Word of God; and prayer, particularly intercessory prayer.
Pray at all times: This suggests making a prayer of our very lives. The Church fulfills this teaching in the Liturgy of the Hours, which permeates, sanctifies, and transfigures the entire day (cf. SC 83, 87; General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, 11). Furthermore, it is the task of the Christian to imbue every aspect of our lives with prayer in addition to prayer at set times. Only in this way can there be a Christianization of the world. (CCC 1073, 1174-1178, 2627, 2636, 2742)
Ch 6:20 Ambassador in chains: Further evidence that Paul may have written this letter from a prison cell (cf. Eph 3:1).
Proverbs 29:23 Here we find a fair echo of one of the Beatitudes of Christ: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). (CCC 716, 1716, 2546-2547, 2556)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Here we are in the SECOND TO LAST CHAPTER in Acts of the Apostles today
It has been a JOURNEY AND A HALF!!
Can you imagine in Ch 27 this journey of St. Paul to Rome
260 plus people here on the ship WITH LUKE
Remember whenever we have the “WE” we know that the person traveling with Paul in this case is Luke because he is describing what he went through as well
BUT THINK ABOUT…
Not only is he on his way to Rome to be tried and hopefully share the Gospel
It is NOT an easy trip
How often are you and I on a trip and we think, “Oh man there’s all these difficulties. I should have stayed home.”
Even if it’s minor inconveniences
A traffic jam
A plane is delayed
That’s where our minds go
“You know what? I shouldn’t even be on this trip. I regret all these decisions.”
And here is St. Paul gives EVERY indication that he is TRUSTING IN THE LORD
He’s like, “Ok this is God’s will. This is God’s will for me right now.”
THIS IS THE SECRET TO HOLINESS
To be able to LEAN INTO THAT
“Ok, whatever is happening this is God’s will for me right now.”
EVEN IF IT IS NOT GOOD
Not that God WILLS evil
He can…oftentimes…well, all the time
It is either his PERFECT WILL that he desires us to be in a certain situation
It is his PERMISSIVE WILL that he ALLOWS us to be in a certain situation
So St. Paul is travelling to Rome in a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE situation
He can LEAN INTO THIS without any kind of “licking his wounds”
Without that sense of self pity or moping around
But he is able to say, “Ok God, this is your will for me today.”
This is Fr. Mike’s prayer for ALL OF US
To be able to say in EVERY situation, “Ok God, this is your will for me right now.”
Even when it is unpleasant for ALL OF US
So speaking of this…
MAN! (OH MAN!!)
St. Paul’s conclusion to the Letter to the Ephesians we have that
That UNITY IN THE SPIRIT
One of the big THEMES is going to be that “YOU HAVE TO HAVE A CONVERTED LIFE!”
“Here, you are living in Ephesus and you CANNOT, you CANNOT live the way you used to live.”
He [Paul] goes on in Ch 5…well actually Ch 6…sorry Ch 4…Fr. Mike knows how to count backwards (🤣🤣🤣)
We have Rules for the New Life
He says, “Put away the old man. Put on the new man created after the likeness of God into righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry but do not sin…”
It goes on to say, “Those who used to steal? No no no. Now you are going to labor, doing honest work with your hands.”
“Those who complain and let evil talks come out of your mouths? No no no. Only speak what is good for EDIFYING, to build up people around you.”
“Those that grieve the Holy Spirit? No no no. Put away bitterness and wrath and anger and instead be kind to one another and put away malice and be tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
He goes on to talk about all the other ways of the FLESH
“You need to put off those works of the FLESH, the works of THIS WORLD and put on the HOLY SPIRIT and WALK IN THE SPIRIT.”
SO IMPORTANT FOR ALL OF US!!
Now one of the big things we need to talk about is in Ch 5
Husbands, love your wives
Wives, be subject to your husbands
You know, this is actually a reading that more couples choose as their second reading in their wedding than virtually any other option for a second reading
Once we go through and explain what Ephesians Ch 5 means, we have something called Theology of the Body
Theology of the Body was a teaching done over the course of five years or so by St. Pope John Paul II in which he not only talks about the relationship between men and women
The relationship of the sexual act in human dignity and human nature and human love
IT IS REALLY INCREDIBLE
In that teaching, we always cover Ephesians Ch 5
That sense of “Wives be subject to your husbands…husbands, love your wives.”
When it is explained, virtually every bride says, “That’s going to be my wedding reading.”
They love it
Because AT FIRST GLANCE it sounds like you have to demean yourself
AT FIRST GLANCE it’s like, “Oh I’m going to subject myself, right?”
“Wives be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.”
We covered this earlier when St. Paul was writing he made it VERY CLEAR that to SUBMIT oneself was not the same thing as declaring one to be INFERIOR to someone’s SUPERIOR (Can you guess when we covered it? Oh only about 10 plus days ago! Go read Day 336: The Council at Jerusalem in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a refresher 😁)
That’s not the case here either
We have St. Paul writing here in Ephesians Ch 5 saying, “Here is the head, Jesus, and here is his Body, the Church.”
So of course we recognize that the Church is underneath the head, under the rule of the HEAD, our Lord Jesus Christ
But think about this…
Is someone’s body LESS valuable than their head?
That is not the case
There is this weird, strange, mysterious EQUALITY between head and body and between body and head
So here in a similar way St. Paul says, “Ok wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. And husbands love your wives.”
Now beyond that we know this because Ephesians 5:21, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
So husbands and wives are basically racing to the bottom
Think about this
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
No one gets to lord it over anyone else
That’s the upshot of this whole thing
NO ONE gets to lord it over ANYONE ELSE
It is a RACE to the bottom
It is a RACE to serve
It is a RACE to be subject to the other
So wives, yup be subject to your husbands
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives [HOW??], as Christ loved the Church…”
How did Christ love the Church?
He gave himself up for her
He laid down his life for her
He rejected what HE wanted and instead lived his life and GAVE his life so that she could HAVE life
This is NOT about DOMINANCE
This is NOT about being SUPERIOR
This is about the RACE TO THE BOTTOM
So husbands love your wives
As Christ loved the Church
Which is not to say LORDING IT OVER HER
NOT to say DOMINATING in any way, shape, or form
NOT saying, “Well, I’m in charge therefore, what I want goes.”
NOT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM!!
What did Jesus do?
He HUMBLED himself
He took the form of a SLAVE
We will hear that tomorrow
He humbled himself and took the form of a slave
This is the call to ALL husbands
How can YOU as a HUSBAND love your WIFE as CHRIST loved the CHURCH?
It is NOT by having her do for you whatever you want
By humbly SUBMITTING YOURSELF and LAYING DOWN YOUR LIFE so that SHE CAN HAVE LIFE
It is saying NO to what YOU want so that SHE can have what she NEEDS
This is the HIGH CALL
St. Paul says this
“I say about this in reference to Christ in the Church, this is the great mystery.”
This is what we are called to as well
And same with children and parents
And slaves and masters
Again we’re talking about slave and masters?
How come St. Paul doesn’t just say, “Set your slaves free!”
It is a whole economy here where good masters would be good employers in this case
Good slaves would essentially, in this case, be good employees
St. Paul makes it VERY VERY CLEAR
Ephesians 6:9, “Masters, do the same to them [basically treating them well], and forbear threatening [you don’t threaten them], knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven and that there is no partiality with him.”
YES EQUALITY ALL THE WAY THROUGH!!
SUBMISSION TO ONE ANOTHER??
OF COURSE NOT!!
A RACE TO THE BOTTOM
A RACE TO SERVE
A RACE TO LOVE
A RACE TO RESPECT AND HONOR EACH OTHER
Because we are in a BATTLE
THIS IS THE REALITY!!
We spend so much time fighting with EACH OTHER
We spend so much time fighting POLITICS
We spend so much time fighting with PEOPLE WHO DISAGREE WITH US
St. Paul makes it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR
Our BATTLE is NOT against FLESH AND BLOOD (Sound familiar? 🤔)
Against PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS (Yup!! You’re right!! We have heard this several times before. Go back and read one time in Day…geez wow there are SO MANY times we learned this…you know what? Just use the search button in the top right of the red banner and search “Principalities and Powers”...😁)
Ephesians 6:12-14, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
OH SO IMPORTANT!!
THAT IS THE KEY!!
THIS IS A REALLY LONG DAY!!
Fr. Mike is really sorry (We all want him to keep going!!! 😁)
BUT HERE WE ARE!!
The end of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians!!
ONE DAY AWAY from the end of The Acts of the Apostles!!
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Lord God, we thank you for the struggle. We thank you for the battle and we thank you for the fact that you trust us enough to be part of your work and you trust us enough to make us your Body on earth. My gosh, Lord God, you have made us members of your Body because you trust us. Not only because you love us and because you want to pour out your love upon us and give us life in you, but also because you give us a share in your mission. You make us your hands and feet in this world and so please, Lord God, help us to never take that for granted. Help us to always walk in you, walk as you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”