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)

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.”