Reflection: After his encounter with Jesus, Paul’s life was turned upside down – he turned from a persecutor of Christians to an apostle. How did you become a Christian? Do you think there is still an urgent need to be witnesses for Christ to the world today? One of Paul’s ways to evangelize was to adapt quickly to the language and culture of his audience. For today’s audience, how well do you think the Church is doing?
Prayer: Thank God for your encounter with Him and for the gift of faith. Ask God for strength so that you can accept different challenges, hardships, or even rejections as you evangelize, just like Paul did.
Action: Share with your family and friends about how you accept your faith. Do not worry about rejections, trust that God is always with you and provides for you.
Acts of the Apostles
Winter in Malta.
1 Once we had reached safety we learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The natives showed us extraordinary hospitality; they lit a fire and welcomed all of us because it had begun to rain and was cold. 3 Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire when a viper, escaping from the heat, fastened on his hand. 4 When the natives saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man must certainly be a murderer; though he escaped the sea, Justice* has not let him remain alive.' 5 But he shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They were expecting him to swell up or suddenly to fall down dead but, after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god. 7 In the vicinity of that place were lands belonging to a man named Publius, the chief of the island. He welcomed us and received us cordially as his guests for three days. 8It so happened that the father of Publius was sick with a fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and, after praying, laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 After this had taken place, the rest of the sick on the island came to Paul and were cured. 10 They paid us great honor and when we eventually set sail they brought us the provisions we needed.
Arrival in Rome.
11Three months later we set sail on a ship that had wintered at the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the Dioscuri as its figurehead. 12We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days, 13 and from there we sailed round the coast and arrived at Rhegium. After a day, a south wind came up and in two days we reached Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers and were urged to stay with them for seven days. And thus we came to Rome. 15 The brothers from there heard about us and came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul gave thanks to God and took courage. 16When he entered Rome,* Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.
Testimony to Jews in Rome. 17 Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had gathered he said to them, “My brothers, although I had done nothing against our people or our ancestral customs, I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem. 18 After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me, because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty.c 19 But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation.d 20 This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear these chains.' 21 They answered him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, nor has any of the brothers arrived with a damaging report or rumor about you. 22 But we should like to hear you present your views, for we know that this sect is denounced everywhere.'
23 So they arranged a day with him and came to his lodgings in great numbers. From early morning until evening, he expounded his position to them, bearing witness to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from the law of Moses and the prophets. 24 Some were convinced by what he had said, while others did not believe. 25 Without reaching any agreement among themselves they began to leave; then Paul made one final statement. “Well did the holy Spirit speak to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, saying:
26 ‘Go to this people and say: You shall indeed hear but not understand. You shall indeed look but never see. 27 Gross is the heart of this people; they will not hear with their ears; they have closed their eyes, so they may not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.’ 28 Let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.' 29 30 He remained for two full years in his lodgings. He received all who came to him, 31 and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Teaching from Fr. Francis Ching (Traditional and Simplified Chinese subtitles are available):
- Read 28:13. How does the presence of Christians in Puteoli and in Rome confirm what Paul says in Romans 1:8 about them? When does tradition indicate that Peter first arrived Rome?
- Read 28:30. Why do you think Luke is silent about the outcome of the fate of Paul’s case before Caesar? What hints do we have of Paul’s subsequent missionary activity? (Hints: read Romans 15:24, Philippians 2:24).
In Acts 28:22, the Jewish leaders were aware that Christianity had its opponents everywhere, and were interested in hearing Paul’s explanation of the Christian faith. What is your typical response when you enter a situation where your Catholic faith is spoken against? How do you defend or explain it? If you feel you need more information, how do you go about getting it?
Paul on the Island of Malta
- The miracles of the viper and healing, once again, reveal God’s special grace for Paul so that His will for Paul to preach in Rome can be fulfilled. In addition, this confirms that Paul is truly an Apostle sent by Jesus who has the authority to perform miracles.
Paul Arrives at Rome
- The exact time of Christianity entering Italy is unknown; however, it is possible that Christianity is brought to Italy by the converted Jews after Peter’s public preaching. Peter might have visited Rome approximately 20 years before Paul.
- In Paul’s two meeting with the Jewish leaders, he has emphasized his innocence (chapters 22-27) and the main messages of Acts: since the Israelites have rejected salvation, it will be handed over to the Gentiles.
- According to Luke, Paul successfully arrives at Rome to preach the Gospel with God’s help despite the many challenges = this fulfills Jesus’ promise: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth'. This is the evangelization journey in Acts. Rome is the city where the Gentiles lived = ends of the earth; it has become the flagship of evangelization to the rest of the world. This is also a fulfillment of Is 49:6.
- The fact that Luke chooses not to reveal the verdict of Paul’s trial shows that Paul is not the focus, but evangelization of the Gospel is at the centre of his writing. At this point, the mission has been accomplished and the Catholic Church has been established to replace the Chosen People in OT as the inheritor to fulfill its mission. Therefore, the book ends at this point without further explanation on Paul’s fate. Stephen, Peter, James, and Paul are only instrument of the Gospel; they are not the focus of Luke’s Acts.
- “stayed for 2 years', after that Paul might have visited Ephesus, Macedonia, and other places, and have blessed Titus and Timothy as the bishop of Cretan and Ephesus respectively. He was arrested later and was martyred in Rome with Peter. He had also visited Spain.
Acts of the Apostles
Winter in Malta. / Arrival in Rome. / Testimony to Jews in Rome.
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