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: Regardless of situations, Paul remained a firm evangelist. How would you imitate him? The focus of Paul’s speech was “resurrection is the gift promised by God”. What is the significance of “resurrection” in your faith?
Prayer: Ask God for grace so that you can have a thorough understanding of your conversion and mission, just like Paul did, so that you find strength to be an effective witness for Christ.
Action: Talk to your friends about “resurrection”, as well as the meaning and significance of our lives on earth.
Acts of the Apostles
King Agrippa Hears Paul.
1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may now speak on your own behalf.’ So Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense. 2 “I count myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am to defend myself before you today against all the charges made against me by the Jews, 3 especially since you are an expert in all the Jewish customs and controversies. And therefore I beg you to listen patiently. 4 My manner of living from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my people and in Jerusalem, all [the] Jews know. 5 They have known about me from the start, if they are willing to testify, that I have lived my life as a Pharisee, the strictest party of our religion. 6 But now I am standing trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors. 7 Our twelve tribes hope to attain to that promise as they fervently worship God day and night; and on account of this hope I am accused by Jews, O king. 8 Why is it thought unbelievable among you that God raises the dead? 9 I myself once thought that I had to do many things against the name of Jesus the Nazorean, 10 and I did so in Jerusalem. I imprisoned many of the holy ones with the authorization I received from the chief priests, and when they were to be put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 Many times, in synagogue after synagogue, I punished them in an attempt to force them to blaspheme; I was so enraged against them that I pursued them even to foreign cities.
12 “On one such occasion I was traveling to Damascus with the authorization and commission of the chief priests. 13e At midday, along the way, O king, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions.f 14We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 Get up now, and stand on your feet.i I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness of what you have seen [of me] and what you will be shown.* 17I shall deliver you from this people and from the Gentiles to whom I send you, 18 to open their eyes* that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me.’
19 “And so, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. 20 On the contrary, first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem and throughout the whole country of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached the need to repent and turn to God, and to do works giving evidence of repentance. 21 That is why the Jews seized me [when I was] in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 But I have enjoyed God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here testifying to small and great alike, saying nothing different from what the prophets and Moses foretold, 23 that the Messiah must suffer* and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.’
Reactions to Paul’s Speech. 24While Paul was so speaking in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, “You are mad, Paul; much learning is driving you mad.’ 25 But Paul replied, “I am not mad, most excellent Festus; I am speaking words of truth and reason. 26 The king knows about these matters and to him I speak boldly, for I cannot believe that [any] of this has escaped his notice; this was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe.’ 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You will soon persuade me to play the Christian.’ 29 Paul replied, “I would pray to God that sooner or later not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am except for these chains.’
30 Then the king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and the others who sat with them. 31 And after they had withdrawn they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing [at all] that deserves death or imprisonment.’ 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’
Teaching from Fr. Francis Ching (Traditional and Simplified Chinese subtitles are available):
Paul before Agrippa
- Introduction of King Agrippa
- Paul emphasizes his proper Jewish background (a Pharisee) before King Agrippa and proclaims the faith and hope of the Israelite ancestors and prophets (the suffering of the Messiah, his resurrection, and proclaiming the light to the Gentiles). King Agrippa is almost convinced by Paul.
- Paul, in obedience to the teaching, spreads the Good News first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. • “proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles' – refers to Is 49:6
- Do you know that:
- The promise of resurrection and eternal life?
- You have already received the guarantee of eternal life?
- At this moment, right here, right now, you can experience Jesus’ resurrected life?
- You will receive all the necessary power and strength if you walk with the Holy Spirit?
- Paul knows them all! He has vanquished all obstacles and responded to God’s call with faith.
- In OT, resurrection and the revival of the Israelites are often connected. Why is that? • Though Agrippa is moved by Paul, he chooses not to believe at the end because “…neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth' Î this shows that catechists must remain humble and pray constantly as everyone has freedom of choice.
Acts of the Apostles
King Agrippa Hears Paul. / Reactions to Paul's Speech.
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