Sunday, July 31, 2022

Gratiam Praestare | To Please

"Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews ... " — Acts 25:9 (NLT) 





This passage starts when the Jewish leaders planned to kill Paul by asking Festus to transfer Paul to Jerusalem for his trial (v.3). Festus who represented the (Roman) governor of Judea told them to follow him to Caesarea and put their charges against Paul there (v.5).

We found out through the passage that all those serious accusations they put against Paul failed. He was proven not guilty against the Jewish laws, the Temple or Roman government (v.7-8). At this point, Festus should be able to release Paul and free him from any accusations. Nothing that Paul did deserved his death (v.10-11). However, despite the clear truth of this case, Festus wanted to please the Jews for his own sake by asking Paul if he would like to stand trial in Jerusalem (v.9). That means opening the way for the Jews to kill Paul as they planned.

We learn a lot from this passage, especially about integrity. Will we stay true to the truth no matter how difficult it can cost us? When the majority refuse to accept the truth, what are we going to do? Who are we going to please? It could happen when we need to speak out the truth God has shown clearly, when we need to defend the weak and the oppressed ones or even when we must make a fair decision involving our loved ones where honesty is required. As Christians, let’s stand firm on the Truth, which is the Word of God. May the Holy Spirit help us. Amen.




Reflection on Acts 25:1-12 by Desire Litaay

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Nunc Vade | Go Now

"But Felix was frightened when Paul started talking to them about doing right, about self control, and about the coming judgement. So he said to Paul, 'That's enough for now. You may go. But when I have time I will send for you.'"— Acts 24:25 (CEV)






The sentence above is the expression of a public figure named Felix which was addressed to the apostle Paul when he was dragged by the high priest Ananias because he was accused of violating the sanctity of the temple of God. In life there is a certain atmosphere that requires us to give ourselves totally to the service and each of our responsibility. We felt incomplete when the task given to us has not been done properly. Our time flies so fast and we are rushing with it.  Someday we will be so weary with loaded burden because of it.  One thing we are sure of, God will never leave us alone.  He will come and greet us through good people who remind us to be satisfied with what we have because we need time to rest and give space to seek the source of our true happiness - which is Christ Himself. Is our search in this world only limited to please the people we love? Well, let us say that is one of our duties in life but we need to take good care of our body and soul too. 

Around us there are people who really need an act of love even just a simple greeting or attentions. Maybe they are our neighbours or our elderly parents who have forgotten by their children or maybe they are members of our own communities who are in crisis, perhaps. How could we give them such attention and love if we ourselves are too busy with our duties, with our businesses and cares?  In the rushed hours of our days, let us try to be sensitive to their needs. 

The words “enough and go now” actually came from Felix’s fear of the Truth that Paul spoke of. We could use it in different context for our lives as well as for our different callings and missions in this world.  To pause from our routines, to go and take a look at our brothers and sisters in need around us.




Reflection on Acts 24:1-27 by Sr. Yanti Purnawati SFSC
(Listen to the Podcast here)

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Omnem Lacrimam | Wipe Every Tear

"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." — Rev 7:17 





Reflecting on this important account of Paul's rescue from the Jews and their conspiracy to kill him off in a deadly ambush (Acts 23:23-35), it amazes me that our God is Sovereign even when we're surrounded by ruthless enemies of the Cross who will and can threaten Christian lives with death threats and/or carry out ruthless acts of murders. I'm reminded of the countless martyrs since the time of St Stephen, when a zealous Saul, before his own encounter with the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus, had personally ordered the death of this first century saint by stoning. I'm also reminded of St John's beautiful vision of the great multitude in heaven, which will include the Nigerian priest who was recently found brutally murdered while his colleague had miraculously escaped.

Regarding this, let's have a look at Revelation 7:9-17 - The Great Multitude in White Robes:

9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

And this is the hope that I cling to in this life, that whatever earthly pains or sorrows will pass away, and my tears too will be wiped away by the King of kings, the Beautiful Lamb of God, as I join the Heavenly Chorus in this eternal Hymn of Praise unto the Lamb who deserves all glory, honour and praise. Amen…


Hallelujah to The Lamb

Lord we stand in the midst of a multitude

Of those from every tribe and tongue

We are Your people redeemed by Your blood

Rescued from death by Your love

There are no words good enough to thank You

There are no words to express my praise

But I will lift up my voice and sing from my heart

With all of my strength

 

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

To the Lamb

Hallelujah hallelujah

By the blood of Christ we stand

Every tongue every tribe

Every people every land

Giving glory giving honor

Giving praise unto the Lamb of God

 

Lord we stand by grace in Your presence

We cleansed by the blood of the Lamb

We are Your children called by Your name

Humbly we bow and we pray

Release Your power to work in us and through us

Till we are changed to be more like You

Then all the nations will see Your glory revealed

And worship You

 

Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

To the Lamb

Hallelujah hallelujah

By the blood of Christ we stand

Every tongue every tribe

Every people every land

Giving glory giving honor

Giving praise unto the Lamb of God


Every knee shall bow

Every tongue confess

That You are Lord of all

 

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Don Moen / Debbye C Graafsma

Hallelujah to the Lamb lyrics © Integrity's Hosanna! Music

Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/60k_gMGRnRk



Reflection on Acts 23:23-35 by Chris Tan

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Filius sororis | Sister's Son

"The son of Paul's sister heard about the ambush'" - Acts 23:16.

Obraz Amrullah Ab z Pixabay


We sometimes are in trouble. There are people who want to hurt us. We can be aware of our circumstances. But it happens that we do not realize it. The book of Acts of the Apostles reminds us that good and bad people exist. So we need to prepare ourselves for everything. We have to trust in God but at the same time, we must act as wise and prudent people.  

There are always our relatives and close friends who help us. Apostle Paul was a missionary who worked and preached alone. Even so, his sister and her son supported him. Besides, there were strangers from Rome who took care of him when he was in danger in front of his own people. 

This passage teaches us that we need to ask for help when we are in trouble. Not only prayers but prayers and reason are necessary for our life. God the Father enriched us with a warm heart and bright reason. He created us in the best possible way. So let us trust in God and also in the good people around us. We have to support each other, especially in difficult situations. We should not be shy to express our needs and talk about our problems. For in our families and communities there are people who make us survive when the dark moments come.


Reflection on Acts 23:12- 22 by J√≥zef Trzebuniak SVD.

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Constans Esto | Take Courage

"The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, 'Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.'" — Acts 23:11 (NIV) 




We continued on to the life of Paul for today’s readings.

As I read the verses assigned to me today, the line said by Paul during the trial stood out for me - “I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” I am not very familiar with the verses and so I read other materials on it, and there I read that for this line, Paul was actually putting his hope on Jesus, who resurrected from the dead. And this was not necessarily established as a fact back then, as much as it does now. This speaks so much of Paul’s hope and faith on Jesus, which we can somehow replicate in our own lives. We can rest in the fact that our God has conquered death, all for the love of us, and our salvation. 

And finally, for the last verse from today’s reading - “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” It just tells me that whatever we are facing today may be a preparation for whatever it is to come in the future. Our God is the master planner, and as He knows what we will face in the future, he prepares us and equips us that we may face them head on. 

And so, for today’s readings - we learn that we can trust the Lord. We can trust that He is the God who resurrects from the dead. And the God who prepares us for whatever the future may hold. Today I pray that we may stay in faith and trust the Lord.



Reflection on Acts 22:30 - 23:11 by Blessie Sto Tomas

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Testis | His Witness

"For you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard." — Acts 22:15
 
Photo by Will Kell on Unsplash


After Paul was arrested he was given a chance to defend his innocence in front of the elders and priests. He tells them that he is a born Jew in Tarsus and brought up according to Jewish law and tradition. He also tells them that he persecuted many Christians along with other Jewish authorities. 

He further explains about his conversion on the way to Damascus.  We are all very familiar with this heart touching episode of his conversion.  After this episode he was a transformed man for he knew that what he was doing was wrong and Jesus Christ was the true Savior of mankind. He got baptized and Jesus gave him a particular mission to preach the good news among the gentiles. Thanks to St. Paul and all his works, Christianity is spread all over the world today.

St. Paul was given a particular mission. St. Paul witnessed to the world what he saw and heard. He had a personal encounter with Christ.  He witnessed it through his speeches, writings and actions. It was a powerful witness that he could gain many souls for Christ. St. Paul spread the fragrance of Christ to the people. He was willing to go through any amount of humiliation and persecution for the sake of witnessing his faith. 

What about us? Are we ready to witness Christ like St. Paul? He received a call within the call. In our lives too there is a call within the call. What is my specific call? Let us spend time in prayer and reflection and find out what exactly God wants us to do for Him.

 

Reflection on Acts 21:37-22:21 by Fr. George Joseph SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)

Tolle | Get rid of

"The crowd that followed kept shouting, 'Get rid of him!'" — Acts 21:36 (NIV)
 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash



While Paul was in the temple in Jerusalem, the Jews from Asia staged false accusations and provoked the people that Paul was against his own people, the law, and defiled the temple by bringing Gentiles into it (28). This accusation is serious because lives are at stake. The people were incited to arrest and persecute Paul (30, 32). They took the law into their own hands without investigating the truth. They wanted to destroy Paul, but fortunately God still protected Paul. God protected Paul from being killed by the angry mob through the hands of the Roman tribune.


Paul is being treated much like his Savior was treated. The words "get rid of him!" exactly what the Jewish people told Jesus in court (John 19:15). At that time Jesus was falsely accused, and now Paul is experiencing it. False accusations led to his arrest and trial.


Jesus' disciples and all his followers suffered. We as His followers also have to suffer for the faith and the gospel we preach. When we decide to follow Jesus, we must be prepared to be disliked, to face accusations and slander as were experienced by the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus. But above all, God always helps us. The suffering we experience is not comparable to the glory we will receive later in the kingdom of heaven. How much are you willing to suffer for the Name of the Lord? Would you face your death with the courage of the martyrs in history? If God should give you the privilege of suffering for his Name, do you dare to respond?

 



Reflection on Acts 21: 27-36 by: Fr. Fransiskus Diaz, SVD

(Listen to the Podcast here)