Reflection materials excerpted from the Chinese edition of the New Testament with Lectio Divina (by Claretian Publications), translated by Fountain of Love and Life
Reflection: Are religious conflicts the only causes of social unrest? Would you be provoked if other people believe or behave in a completely different manner than yours?
Prayer: Ask God to help you overcome negative emotions, such as jealousy and anger, so as to avoid offending others. Also ask God for grace so that you are empowered to make amends for your past mistakes.
Action: You should take an initiative to reconcile with those who were hurt by your prejudices, jealousy, or anger.
Acts of the Apostles
Paul in Thessalonica.
1 When they took the road through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they reached Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Following his usual custom, Paul joined them, and for three sabbaths he entered into discussions with them from the scriptures, 3 expounding and demonstrating that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead, and that “This is the Messiah, Jesus, whom I proclaim to you.” 4 Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas; so, too, a great number of Greeks who were worshipers, and not a few of the prominent women. 5 But the Jews became jealous and recruited some worthless men loitering in the public square, formed a mob, and set the city in turmoil. They marched on the house of Jason, intending to bring them before the people’s assembly. 6 When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city magistrates, shouting, “These people who have been creating a disturbance all over the world have now come here, 7and Jason has welcomed them.d They all act in opposition to the decrees of Caesar and claim instead that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 They stirred up the crowd and the city magistrates who, upon hearing these charges, 9 took a surety payment from Jason and the others before releasing them.
Paul in Beroea.
10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas to Beroea during the night. Upon arrival they went to the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These Jews were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all willingness and examined the scriptures daily to determine whether these things were so. 12 Many of them became believers, as did not a few of the ' Greek women and men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the word of God had now been proclaimed by Paul in Beroea also, they came there too to cause a commotion and stir up the crowds. 14 So the brothers at once sent Paul on his way to the seacoast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. 15 After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens, they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
Paul in Athens.
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he grew exasperated at the sight of the city full of idols. 17 So he debated in the synagogue with the Jews and with the worshipers, and daily in the public square with whoever happened to be there. 18 Even some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers engaged him in discussion. Some asked, “What is this scavenger trying to say?” Others said, “He sounds like a promoter of foreign deities,” because he was preaching about ‘Jesus’ and ‘Resurrection.’ 19 They took him and led him to the Areopagus and said, “May we learn what this new teaching is that you speak of? 20 For you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians as well as the foreigners residing there used their time for nothing else but telling or hearing something new.
Paul’s Speech at the Areopagus.
22 Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:“You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. 26 He made from one* the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, 27 so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. 28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 29 Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination. 30 God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent 31because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”
32 When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.” 33And so Paul left them. 34 But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Teaching from Fr. Francis Ching (Traditional and Simplified Chinese subtitles are available):
Read the passage below on Manichaeism. Read Acts 17:32. Why did the Athenians regard the notion of physical resurrection as strange and even scandalous?
Read Acts 17:29. What does it mean to “make God in your own image”? In what ways does our culture project its own image of God? How do we know that the Christian God is not simply our own mental image of God that resembles some ideal of our own making?
- The capital of Macedonia (Northern Greece), a Roman province. Paul wrote first and second letters to the Thessalonians.
- Why “another king”?
- “ … examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so.” = Sola Scriptura”? Going by Scripture; but not ONLY Scripture.
- The true God is not an “unknown God”, He is the “Word”. He reveals Himself out of love so that we may come to know Him and by knowing Him, we may unite with Him.
- “From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth” – How to interpret A&E story?
- The teaching about resurrection is being mocked – Why must we believe in the resurrection of the body? What important clues are revealed through Jesus’ transfiguration?
Acts of the Apostles
Paul in Thessalonica. / Paul in Beroea. / Paul in Athens. / Paul's Speech at the Areopagus.
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