Thursday, June 30, 2022

Custodiens Legem | Guard the Law

"... but that you yourself observe and guard the law." — Acts 21:24

Reflecting on this important account of Paul's 3rd Missionary journey, he's making an appeal for unity between Jewish and Gentile Christians. For instance, although the Gentiles did not have to abide by the Old Testament's circumcision requirements, minimally, as newly converted Gentile Christians, they were urged to adhere to the strict laws pertaining to food such as abstaining from food sacrificed to idols, from consuming of blood and animals that are strangled to death, as well as sexual impurity. 

To further proof his legitimacy as a Jew, Paul also undertook to accompany 4 men, under the Nazirite vows, and went through the rites of purification in solidarity with them. His words and statements are also in line with what our LORD JESUS said in Matthew 5:17, NSRV - "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."

The God of Infinite Mercy and Grace is also the same Holy God, who needs to be revered with holy awe. Just because we are saved by Grace, doesn't give us a free license to keep on living immorally or ignore the fact that our freedom from the penalties of sin was paid with a heavy price, the Holy Immortal Blood of our LORD JESUS CHRIST.

One day, we will join the Heavenly Chorus in singing praises to the Lamb who was slain. "Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, 'To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever!'" (Revelations 5:13).

I will close with this beautiful modern worship, that sings of Christ's great sacrifice.
Thank You Jesus for the Blood
I was a wretch
I remember who I was
I was lost, I was blind
I was running out of time

Sin separated
The breach was far too wide
But from the far side of the chasm
You held me in your sight

So You made a way
Across the great divide
Left behind Heaven's throne
To build it here inside

And there at the cross
You paid the debt I owed
Broke my chains, freed my soul
For the first time I had hope

Thank you Jesus for the blood applied
Thank you Jesus, it has washed me white
Thank you Jesus, You have saved my life
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light

You took my place
Laid inside my tomb of sin
You were buried for three days
But then You walked right out again

And now death has no sting
And life has no end
For I have been transformed
By the blood of the lamb

Thank You Jesus for the blood applied (thank You Jesus)
Thank You Jesus, it has washed me white
Thank You Jesus, You have saved my life
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light

There is nothing stronger
Than the wonder working power of the blood
The blood
That calls us sons and daughters

We are ransomed by our Father
Through the blood
The blood
There is nothing stronger
Of the wonder working power of the blood
The blood
That calls us sons and daughters
We are ransomed by the Father
Through the blood
The blood

Thank You Jesus for the blood applied
Thank You Jesus, it have washed me white
Thank You Jesus, You have saved my life
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light

Glory to His name
Glory to His name
There to my heart was the blood applied
Glory to His name

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Charity Gayle / John Hart Stockton / Bryan Mccleery / David Gentiles / Ryan Kennedy / Steven Musso / Elisha Albright Hoffman


Reflection on Acts 21:17-26 by Chris Tan

Monday, June 27, 2022

Paratus | Ready to Die

"...I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." — Acts 21:13 (NIV) 

This passage is about the journey towards Jerusalem, where Paul was going to die.

Apostle Paul knew his life was going to end very soon. It was God’s plan for him after so many years serving the Lord, spreading the Good News everywhere. Prisons and hardships were so familiar to him (Acts 20:23). The believers in several places he came across were crying and kissed him goodbye as he said they wouldn’t meet him again (Acts 20:37-38). Now in Caesarea, Agabus - a prophet came and told him what the Holy Spirit said of how he would die (v.11). His close friends and the believers there were weeping and urging him to avoid Jerusalem (v.12).

Normally we will be very sad when someone tells us that we are going to die. Let alone when we have to die for the sake of someone else. Sometimes, not very often, we heard about a person who is willing to give his/ her body parts for the healing of a family member. It’s because they love the person so much that the sacrifice feels lighter to do. But to die for someone, needs more than that. The ultimate love which encompasses everything or anyone else even our own selves. Otherwise it’s impossible to reach such decision. This even applies when we have to die to sin, to self-indulgence, to money, to the world, etc.

Apostle Paul had no hesitation at all about this. Verse 13 shows how Paul replied to the people around him, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Dear brothers and sisters, do we have such love that Apostle Paul had towards Jesus? “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). It is not that we have to hate others, but Jesus requires the first place in our hearts. It’s the standard he set and a very high one.

Jesus Christ left his Kingdom in Heaven to die bearing the wrath of God to save you and me. We need to look deep inside. Is Jesus the King of our hearts, whom we give our ultimate devotion and love? For Apostle Paul said, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” (Phil 3:8). He is truly wholeheartedly devoted to Jesus Christ. How about us? May God help us all. 

Reflection on Acts 21:1-16 by Desire Litaay 
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Consummem Cursum | Complete The Task

" only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me" - Acts 20:24 (NIV)

Today’s readings is about Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders. For me, it spoke about closures and endings.

Verses 23 to 24 were so poignant and so grounded:
"I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."

It showed how clear Paul’s mission was to him, a mission to testify the good news, and how he was willing to endure hardships while doing this mission. At the end of life, will we be able to say that to ourselves – that we have lived for the purpose God has made us for? Will we be able to endure the hardships that come along as we do this task?

Paul, in his conversion, give us hope that we, too, can do this. Despite our past, we can commit to the Lord to do His will.

I also learned from today’s readings that the passage “It is more blessed to give than to receive” is actually biblical. I have always heard this used, but I didn’t realized it was even biblical. And it’s true – it is more blessed to give than to receive. We give because there is an overflow of blessings in our own lives.

And finally, the last few verses of today’s readings also tell me that Paul was loved. Verse 38 says that “What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.” Paul will be missed, and it tells me how important to try to do our mission lovingly and with a community. Paul had companions along the way, and I believe this is what God wants us to do as well. To serve amongst brothers and sisters, and to do so lovingly.

Reflection on Acts 20:13-38 by Blessie Sto Tomas
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Anima Ipsius | Life Within

"But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, 'Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.'" Acts 20:10 (NRSV)


Photo taken by J√≥zef Trzebuniak

In today's passage we see that Paul is bidding farewell to the people of Troas as he is moving to the next place of his mission. Since it was the last night with them he decided to spend more time with the people talking to them. At that time one young man named Eutychus, who fell asleep, fell down to the ground three floors below. It is mentioned in the Bible that he was picked up dead. However, Paul came down and picked the dead body of this young man and raised him to life saying, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." Then Paul continued the meeting till dawn.

Dear brothers and sisters, as long as we have life in our body we are alive. God has given all of us this gift of life. It may be long or short we do not know. Along with life he also gives us freedom. The freedom to Choose God or devil. The real way of making use of this freedom is to glorify God through our life. But many choose the other way, the easy way to glorify evil.

The young man fell asleep while Paul was preaching the truth about Jesus Christ. The young man had not placed his heart in Jesus. We read in Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We most often place our heart on things, pleasure, people, wealth, power, name and fame etc. These things take away our hearts from Jesus. 

When we sleep in our Spiritual life we die spiritually. When we are spiritually dead it is for sure that our physical life also will be affected. Let us therefore make sure that we place Jesus in the center of our life. When we give first priority to God, God also will give first priority to us. Let us therefore ask Jesus to purify our sinful hearts and make our hearts like His. May the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of us all. Amen.

Reflection on Acts 20:7-12 by Fr. George Joseph SVD
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Dimisit Ecclesiam | Dismiss the Assembly

"After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly" — Acts 19:41

In this passage, there was a demonstration in the city of Ephesus. At that time in the city of Ephesus there was a temple of Artemis which was famous throughout the world and became the pride of the city. Because of Paul's preaching of the gospel, a silver idol maker, Demetrius, was disturbed and his business was threatened with bankruptcy. He was trying to provoke the people in the city of Ephesus. In his speech, Demetrius tried to persuade the builders that all this was because of Paul trying to destroy the idol of Artemis. For Paul said that "everything made by human hands is not a god" (Acts 19:26).

There is an interesting saying in verse 32: "Meanwhile, the people gathered in the building were shouting; one said this and the other said that, because the crowd was in chaos and most of them did not know what they were gathering for. " If we look at our lives today, the events in Ephesus are very trending events. People sometimes become like the Ephesians who were influenced by Demetrius' talk without seeking the truth. People often join in without knowing why, and the worst part is that some people become provocateurs for their own benefit. There are people who hate the Church and then corner the Church and invite others to join in against the church.

Alexander the Jew tried to calm the angry mob, but his efforts failed (34). Finally the City Clerk intervened to calm the crowd (35). He persuaded the people of Ephesus to calm down and stop committing acts of anarchy. He managed to calm the crowd.

The story in Ephesus teaches us that sometimes the presence of Christians becomes a problem in society because some people want to criticize and destroy the followers of Christ. This situation needs to be responded wisely. We learned a lot from the clerks in that city. At the same time we remain in control of ourselves and are not provoked by circumstances. May we continue to maintain faith in Christ while asking His wisdom to be wiser in dealing with everything. Let's also ask His Holy Spirit so that we can sort out what is good and what is right according to God's will.



Reflection on Act 19: 23-41 by Fr. Fransiskus Diaz, SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Exhortatus | Encouragement

"He provided many words of encouragement" — Acts 20:2.

We speak a lot and share many words in daily conversations. We very often focus on ourselves and our needs. We are at the centre of our talks. It happens that we even do not listen to others. They say something but we do not care about it.

Paul the Apostle had a different attitude towards people. When he travelled, he met hundreds of people and talked with them. "He provided many words of encouragement" (v.2). In this way his mission was successful. For he knew what to tell his listeners. He was always focused on the truth of Jesus Christ. Even when he experienced difficulties, he did not give up. He stayed with those who accepted his words and fell in love with the Good News. Thus, more and more friends wanted to go with him because he was full of the Holy Spirit.

Today we can think about ourselves. After Pentecost are we fulfilled with the Spirit of God? Are we the followers of Jesus Christ who support others with "words of encouragement"? Does the Holy Spirit work through our words and actions?

Let us imitate the Apostle Paul. Let us concentrate on goodness and share the Gospel with the world.  

Reflection on Acts 20:1-6 by Fr. Jozef Trzebuniak SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)