Thursday, November 29, 2012

Catholic History – 12 Days of Christmas and Advent

by M. J. Joachim
So here I am researching the history of Advent, a topic that seems to be muddier with each new resource I read, when I came across something that fully intrigues me like you wouldn’t believe.

I’m well aware that England had a major problem with Catholics in her history. That’s why Parliament broke away from the Catholic Church and numerous Christian denominations began practicing their own specific beliefs. It all goes back to the religious persecutions that took place from 1558 to 1829, when it was [literally] a crime to be Catholic in England, that is until Parliament emancipated Catholics there, nullifying the crime and punishment part.

Of course, Catholics will be Catholic, even underground.

Hey, if the early Church can do it…

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

I’ll admit, we drove our parents crazy with the song when we were young…

It was beyond uncool to sing, by the time we were teenagers…

And as adults, it became one of those ones like “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do…” that soon became one of our children’s favorites, if only to torture their parents with…

But The Twelve Days of Christmas – a hidden code for Catholic beliefs in England, when being Catholic was a crime there? Who knew? I guess you and I do now J

True love = God
2 turtle doves = Old and New Testaments of the Bible
3 French hens = faith, hope and charity
4 calling birds = four Gospels and Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
5 golden rings = the Pentateuch, which are the first 5 books of the Old Testament
6 geese a-laying = six days of creation
7 swans a-swimming = seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – seven sacraments
8 maids a-milking = eight beatitudes
9 ladies dancing = nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 lords a leaping = Ten Commandments
11 pipers piping = eleven faithful apostles
12 drummers drumming = twelve points in the Apostle’s Creed

History of Advent

As for the history of Advent, it’s pretty safe to say Advent didn’t begin until Christmas became an accepted Christian holiday, which happened on Constantine’s watch, after his conversion, sometime during the latter part of the 4th Century, under Pope Gregory the Great’s reign. (Don’t hold me to it – I read sources that claimed Advent started in the 2nd Century too.)

Regardless of the exact commencement dates of Advent, it is important to note that everyone agrees Advent is a time of preparation – mirroring the Lenten season, as it were. As the liturgical season of Advent evolved, it became less a penitential time, and more of a reflective, not giddy – but joyful time, of preparing for the Lord’s birth.

Early on, Advent was a time of penance and fasting, as was customary and traditional during times prior to major feast days. Today, while being less penance driven and more anticipatory, Advent remains a time to reflect on and repent of our sins against God, albeit in a much more positive sense. We are to strive to be the Christians we were born to be, children of God modeling Christ’s goodness in our world.

Christ is the light in our darkness and the reason for the season.

A thought from one of my favorite Christmas movies, The Christmas Box, seems to say it all, “The first gift of Christmas is a child.”

…and oh boy, if that’s not an argument in favor of protecting the unborn, I’m not sure what qualifies!

Best of the season to you all!

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credits: Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain, James II - the last Catholic monarch to reign in England; Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Advent: A Time of Preparation and Reflection

by M. J. Joachim
Amidst Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, football on Sunday and Cyber Monday, the liturgical season of Advent silently waits to arrive. It is no accident that this season often gets glossed or passed over these days. Without a second thought, many of us delight our taste buds with scrumptious treats – all in the name of being social and festive. We spend our time, maximizing efforts to shop, decorate and visit. 

Christmas is well on its way, and our task is to make it bigger and brighter than ever.

Yes, Christmas is well on its way – and Christians throughout the world are preparing for the Birth of Christ, not the arrival of Santa Claus.

Nothing against Santa, mind you. He’s one of my all-time favorite people; the history of St. Nicholas is definitely worthy of more than a few words. However, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Ah, but this gives us an entirely different perspective on the Christmas season, doesn’t it? As with the birth of any child, there is growing anticipation in the pregnancy of events to occur. Labor has yet to take place, and rushing it could do more harm than good, because an innocent little baby is fulfilling his journey to be born into our world.

Indeed, the third trimester of any pregnancy is one of calm reflection, energized anticipation and precarious caution over the changes that will automatically take place in our lives, once the newborn child arrives. Mama, for her part, is taking more care than ever, to assure the safest possible arrival of her baby; everyone is getting ready to welcome him into a warm and loving home, full of joy and good cheer. Things are busy to be sure, as nothing can be overlooked during the preparations for such a blessed event. And yet, there is a solemn spirit of reflection on the mystery of it all – a gentle stirring in our hearts, because a miracle is taking place, right before our very eyes.

Advent 2012 begins on December 2. “The beginning of Advent always falls nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, November 30.” (Catholic Customs & Traditions) The word itself means coming or arrival.  Candles symbolize light in the darkness. “The Advent wreath, with its four candles, symbolizes the end of darkness and the turning toward light in the coming of the Lord.” (The Everything Catholicism Book) Colors of Advent are purple (or very dark blue) and rose, quite a contrast to the greens, reds, silver and gold tones of Christmastime.

I’ve much more to share with you about the intriguing, historical season of Advent, a time influenced by many peoples, traditions and customs throughout the years. I’m curious though. How do you celebrate the season of Advent in your home, community, parish etc.? Please, leave a note in the comments and encourage others with your faith. Advent is a season of preparation, and there’s positively no logical reason I can think of, for doing so alone.

That’s all for now, kind followers. Until next time, I bid you peace J

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution

Monday, November 26, 2012

Catholic Bible E-Study Acts 4: 23 – 37 Picture Puzzle Answers

by M. J. Joachim
Here are the answers to the BibleStudy picture puzzles for Acts 4:  23 - 37.

1.  The apostles bore witness.

2.  Signs and wonders are done.

3.  Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them.

4.  The kings of the earth took their stand.

5.  They raised their voices to God with one accord.

Here’s hoping you had a lot of fun with this. Until next time, I wish you well J

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution

Catholic Bible E-Study Acts 4: 23 – 37 Games and Puzzles

by M. J. Joachim

This is the games and puzzles section for:  Catholic Bible E-Study Acts 4: 23 – 37
Trying to format it within the original post was more or less driving me nuts, so I decided to create a separate post, to eliminate stress and encourage a much happier outcome.

Simply solve the picture puzzles to come up with phrases from the Bible passage using all three words. The link above opens a new window, in hopes to make it easier on you.

The pictures are scrambled and in no particular order.

Have fun!





I’ll post the answers to these picture puzzles in my next post.

Until next time, I wish you every good thing J

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credits: Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain and Creative Commons Attribution

Acts 4: 23 – 37 Bible Study Answers and Prayers for the Unborn

Here are the answers to: 

Just the Facts Answers

Question 1:  They went back to their people and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.

Question 3:  Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, the people of Israel

Question 5:  They were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own. With great power, they bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus.

Questions 2, 4 and 6 answers will vary. They are Soul Searching questions, intended to be personal.

This is a map of abortion laws throughout the world in 2011.

Together, let us all pray fervently for an end to abortion in our world.

That’s all for now, kind followers. Until next time, I wish you well J

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved

Photo and Map Credits:  Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution

Catholic Bible E-Study – Acts 4: 23 – 37

by M. J. Joachim


In the first half of Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested and ordered not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. Eventually, they were also released, because they could not be punished, particularly since the people were supportive of their actions in healing the crippled beggar.

The second half of Acts 4 relates to prophecy and how leaders, hungry for power, fortune and fame, are dismissing its message and God’s word. It goes on to discuss how the beginnings of Christian communities began forming, because the people were bearing witness to the resurrection of Christ.

My initial reflections about Acts 4: 23 – 37 relate to charity. “There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property and houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to their need.” (Acts 4: 34 – 35)

I can’t help but think that charity is reciprocal, and requires teamwork to function properly. Matthew 26: 11 states, “The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me.” My mind wanders to 1 Corinthians 12: 12, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body though many, are one body, so also Christ.”

Acts 4: 32 states, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.”

True charity opposes selfishness on many levels. It rebukes pride and vice, one-upping those we deem lower than ourselves. Being poor is as much a state of mind, as it is lack of material possessions. Jesus was born in a stable, and He is the Savior of the world!

Following Scripture (Acts 4: 23 – 37) today requires some intense consideration. We too need to learn from the prophets of old, and recognize truth that cannot be denied, or justified when and if it is.

This passage calls us to a higher awareness of our surroundings, a closer look at our hearts and mindful recollection of our motives. It also poignantly reminds us that we are all responsible for building up the community; charity is not a handout, but a loving response to those who are truly in need of whatever it is we have to offer.

Remember Acts 3, where the crippled beggar asked Peter and John for alms. They didn’t have money to give, but that didn’t stop them from giving – and what a gift they gave! The beggar in turn gave witness to Christ. This is true charity and community at work, “of one heart and mind.” 

Acts 4:  23 – 37 

(as written in The New American Catholic Bible)

Prayer of the Community

After their release they went back to their own people and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. And when they heard it, they raised their voices to God with one accord and said,

 “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them, you said by the holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant:

‘Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples entertain folly?
The kings of the earth took their stand
And the princes gathered together
Against the Lord and against his anointed.’
Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do what your hand and [your] will had long ago planned to take place. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth [your] hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus. As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Life in the Christian Community

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles.

Just the Facts and Soul Searching

1.  Where did the apostles go upon their release, and what did they do?
2.  Relying on information from the previous question, how does your answer relate to your own communications within your family and personal relationships, when you respond or deal with the outside world?
3.  Who were the kings and princes that took their stand against Jesus? How did they do it?
4.  Are there leaders today, who also take a stand against Jesus? What actions of theirs make you believe this is true? How do their actions affect you and your beliefs and decisions on a personal level?
5.  What made the community of believers such a cohesive group?
6.  How is your family and home a cohesive community? What are the best things about it? Where and how can you make it a more charitable dwelling?

Active Response

Take some time to exercise the gift of charity in your own home this week. Think about the little things, like surprising someone by helping them unexpectedly, or leaving a special note in an unexpected place. Make a point to greet your family members warmly, each time you see them, and say “I love you,” each time you must separate from one another. Be mindful of what your family members need. It may be as simple as giving the gift of silence, when they are working or playing on the computer. It might involve getting them off the computer, for some much needed quality time together. Whatever it is, be certain that your charity is all about them, and not about you at all.

The Final Word

There are many times when our needs are not the same as our wants. Society seems to give an unspoken message (or perhaps not so unspoken) that we are entitled to certain things. Indeed, humanity has basic needs that must be met. However, this is not an endless supply of anything that might be available, if we whine, beg, steal or throw tantrums demanding that we get it.
Society appears to be playing a game of tug-o’-war, in my opinion. Whoever screams the loudest gets the most attention, while the rest of the people fight to keep what they already have, and many juggle to adjust to the changing demands on their paychecks. We wouldn’t let a child disrupt our home like this, yet we fight to protect the rights of others doing this exact thing in our midst.
We need to take some time to discern the wants from the needs. We need to decide if we are not adding to the problem, by enabling those “throwing tantrums to get what they want,” or reaching out to truly help those in need. This is not an easy task.
Individuals must step up and boldly take a stand against greed and selfish agendas, two things I believe are running rampant in society these days. Depleting resources by supplying wants (as opposed to real and actual needs) is not a good solution. In doing so, we literally limit those resources, which diminishes the ability we have, to help more people who really need them.
It is our duty to pay attention to what is going on, and respond in all fairness to the needs of the poor. How can we possibly do this, if we spend so much time addressing those who merely want things, and will go to just about any lengths to get them?
My heart is heavy when I think about the sins against humanity, in the name of helping others. If we put Christ first, instead of ourselves, perhaps we’ll be able to see the errors of our ways.
That’s all for now, kind followers. See you next post with the answers to the questions, plus prayers for the unborn – people truly in need, being sacrificed for the wants of greed and selfishness, all in the name of protecting rights and freedoms, so some people can get what they want…such a sad, sad commentary indeed.
M. J.
©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credits: Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain and Creative Commons Attribution

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pope Linus, Successor to St. Peter

Pope Linus continued with the mission to share the Good News and build the foundations of Christianity during his reign. 

by M. J. Joachim
There are a lot of conflicting reports concerning Pope Linus. Being that the records date back to a relatively short time after the death of Christ, it’s easy to understand why. Much of what we know about Pope Linus has been passed down verbally – leading toward tendencies to consider it myth, or at the very least, disputable. Keeping doubts and questions in perspective, “All the ancient records of the Roman Bishops which have been handed down to us by St. Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, St. Hippolytus, Eusebius, also the Liberian catalog of 354, place the name of Linus directly after that of the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter.” (The Original Catholic Encyclopedia)

Information concerning Pope Linus comes from ancient documents, which state his reign lasted approximately twelve years after St. Peter, our first pope. It is important to remember that the early years of the Church were a work in progress. There were many great leaders and bishops, all striving diligently to share the good news that Christ was born, died and rose from the dead, for the salvation of all.

At this point in time, the papacy was still in its infancy. The systems we have in place today (College of Cardinals – electors of successive popes, as well as a single universal papal leader) did not exist. The Church was very much in its missionary phase of development, with the apostles, disciples and the faithful making voyages to foreign lands, introducing Christ and his message to people far and wide. This was a relatively peaceful time in the Church’s history; early Christians were not deemed a threat and persecutions were generally not taking place.

Ancient Church history indicates that average people faced many difficulties, living in the times of pagan gods; many were hoping and seeking an alternative to their oppressive society. “The rapid spread of the Gospel among pagans, on the other hand, constituted the greatest religious revival in the history of man.” (Bokenkotter – A Concise History of the Catholic Church)

The Roman Empire was vast and powerful. Emperors seeking favor with trends of the times allowed and encouraged the spread of the Gospel, often to appease the people. “The old Roman religion provided little competition for Christianity. Faith in the ancient gods could not be revived, as Augustus and other Emperors found to their dismay. Nor could the average person take much comfort in the rites and ceremonies dedicated to the deified Emperors themselves.” (Bokenkotter)

Pope Linus reigned from approximately A.D. 64 or 67 to A.D. 76 or 79, directly after St. Peter and prior to Anacletus, aka Cletus. He was born in Tuscany, Italy. His lineage cannot be proven, though some records indicate his father was Herculanus. Several ancient documents state Pope Linus was a friend or disciple of St. Paul, “Try to get here before winter. Eubusius, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers send greetings.” (American Catholic Bible, 2 Timothy, 4: 21) Paul was giving a final greeting in this passage, where he was sharing stories of his journeys, trials and persecutions, during the formation of the early Church.

Little is known about the actual papacy of St. Linus. It is believed he wrote about the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. It is also acknowledged and accepted that Linus was chosen to be the next pope, after St. Peter’s death. It can be reasonably assessed that Pope Linus continued with the mission to share the Good News and build the foundations of Christianity during his reign. His feast day is September 23, the same day of his death. He has been canonized as a saint and is honored in Eucharistic Prayer I, “In union with the whole church, we honor Mary, the ever-virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. We honor Joseph, her husband, the apostles and martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, [James, John, Thomas, James Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude; we honor Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian]; and all the saints. May their merits and prayers gain us your constant help and protection. [Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]”  

That’s all for now, dear people. Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrated this past week. Wishing you all a wonderful week, as we prepare for Advent and the celebration of Christmas J
M. J. 

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain

Friday, November 16, 2012

Introduction to the History of the Catholic Church and Papacy

by M. J. Joachim
The history of the Catholic Church begins and ends with Jesus. He is our Lord and Savior, and without Him, there is no reason for the Church to exist at all. That said, Catholics depend on Holy Scripture (both old and new testaments) to appreciate, understand and adhere to God’s laws.

According to A Concise History of the Catholic Church, by Thomas Bokenkotter, “The Catholic Church has always claimed Jesus of Nazoreth as its founder, and nearly everyone is familiar with the basic facts about this dynamic Jewish preacher and healer who was born around the turn of the century A.D. (probably between 6 B.C. & A.D. 6) and was crucified by the Romans between A.D. 28 and 30.”

The Catholic Catechism affirms Bokenkotter’s declaration in Part 1: Chapter 2, “At the heart of the catechesis we find, in essence, a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazoreth, the only Son from the Father…who suffered and died for us and who now, after rising, is living with us forever.”

The Acts of the Apostles in the Bible also affirm the foundation (Jesus) of the Catholic Church, while giving us picturesque glimpses into the formation of the early Church. It is worthwhile to note that while many Catholics point to Peter as our first pope, the role of Popes has also changed throughout the course of history.

One must recognize that there were twelve apostles and numerous (hundreds and thousands) of followers in the early church. These devoted servants of Christ, many who walked, talked and prayed with Him personally, were living people of their times.

They were chosen, yes. But they were also human. They had to discern what God was doing in their lives and in their world, just like we must do today.

After Jesus died and rose from the dead, His followers were on a mission. Of this there is no doubt. Establishing a Christian community was imperative to keep their newfound faith alive and well.

The Acts of the Apostles, the second volume of Luke’s two volume work (American Catholic Bible), documents early church history, and shows how the Holy Spirit guided those chosen by God to lead her.

Early on, Luke demonstrates Peter’s role as a primary leader in the Church. However, “Not until the pontificate of St. Pius I in the middle of the second century (ca. 142 – ca.155) did the Roman Church have a mono-episcopal structure of government (one bishop as pastoral leader of a diocese). (Lives of the Popes, Richard P. McBrien)

This is one of the reasons I chose to focus on Acts of the Apostles for my first Catholic Bible E-Study series, because the history of the Catholic Church is rich and dynamic. It is also very relevant to the growing pains each society and culture faces in every era and time.

If we look back to the founding of America, we can see that while George Washington was America’s first president, there were many leaders who worked together to form the country called United States of America. Washington didn’t stand on top of a mountain and say, “Here I am and here’s how it’s all going down.” No, he rolled up his sleeves, got down in the trenches, butted heads with a few people and worked tirelessly to build the foundation of what we now know.  And he didn’t do it alone.

Well, neither did Peter (or Luke, or Paul, or John) or any other follower of Jesus and faithful member of the early Catholic Church.

Just as each of our (Catholic Church) founders worked hard to procure the development of our faith (and per my analysis, USA), so must we work hard to preserve what has been put in place and set in motion.

History indeed teaches us about the pitfalls, struggles, growing pains and opposition to our cause. History also carves a path rich in lessons of success and failure, all capable of influencing the decisions we make in our own lives today.

If we are wise, like the apostles and faithful followers of Jesus, we will trust the Holy Spirit to guide our decisions and help us forge our paths.

That’s all for now, dear people. Blessings for a safe and happy weekend to you J

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credits:  Wikipedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License, St. Peter's Basilica, Andreas Tille; Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain, Acts of the Apostles Greek Manuscript, Antonius - a monk; Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain, Pope Pius I; Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution, Pope Benedict XVI, Fabio Pozzebom/ABr (Eucharist at canonization of Frei Galvão in São Paulo, Brazil)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Answers to Acts 4: 1 – 22 and Prayers for the Unborn

by M. J. Joachim

Fill in the blank:  1.  Holy Spirit, 2.  Jesus, 3.  Sanhedrin, speak, teach

True/False:  true, false, true, false

Word Search

One of my all-time favorite prayers is the Prayer of St. Francis. Let us offer it now, in hopes for an end to abortion during our lifetime.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

Oh, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled, as to console.
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

That’s all for now, kind people. Looking forward to seeing you again soon J

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit:  Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain, Fyodor Zubov; Wikipedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License, Andrew Balet

Catholic Bible E-Study – Acts 4: 1 – 22

by M. J. Joachim
It is nearly impossible not to relate Acts 4: 1 – 22 to today’s political scene, in my opinion. The struggle for power, control and dominance is clear. Authority wants its due.

However, “authority” cannot argue effectively with fact and reality, which oppose the agenda prepared for its subjects. This is often what happens, when common sense is disregarded, in place of ego and self-righteousness.

Correspondingly, a “shush order” ~ something I like to call, “Silent but deadly,” attempts to go into effect. We all know what happens then, don’t we? The truth explodes on the scene like nobody’s business, because it simply cannot be contained, and everyone stands around like idiots, wondering what to do next.

For one (or many) cannot argue with the power of God, which is nothing less than absolute truth, and to be as bold as Peter and John were back in the day, a faith filled reality, supported by factual evidence.

Acts 4:  1 – 22 (as written in The New American Catholic Bible)

While they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them, disturbed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word came to believe and [the] number of men grew to [about] five thousand.

Before the Sanhedrin

On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high priestly class. They brought them into their presence and questioned them, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders:  If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed.

He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus. Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could say nothing in reply.

So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, and conferred with one another, saying, “What are we to do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it. But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name.”

So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them further, they released them, finding no way to punish them, on account of the people who were all praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been done was over forty years old.

Just the Facts

Fill in the blank.

1.  Peter, filled with the _____   _____ answered them.

2.  _____ is the stone the builders rejected.

3.  The _____ ordered Peter and John not to _____  or  _____  in the name of Jesus.


1.  Annas is the high priest.

2.  The authority and rulers knew exactly what to do with Peter and John.

3.  The crippled beggar was 40+ years old.

4.  Peter and John were timid when they got arrested.

Soul Searching

As you read this passage, how does it related to your life? Are you the one confronted by authority, or are you the authority figure, imposing your will on others?

Sometimes we’re a little of both, it seems. Life is messy (with many shades of gray), and we get all tangled up in it. Our intentions are often good, but they might get side-tracked in our efforts to achieve our goals.

How can you improve your response to others, regardless of your authoritative position? Do Peter and John in this passage, make it easier to appreciate the role of authority in your life, or at least deal with it in healthier, more productive ways?

Active Response

It is nearly impossible to lift ourselves up when we feel slighted and harbor anger for those who have hurt us. Perhaps we’re even angry at ourselves, for allowing the hurt to happen. Maybe it was a really big hurt, and healing from it is one of the hardest things we’ll ever do in this life, if we ever can fully recover from such an injury.

Take a moment and reflect on the gift of salvation. Meditate on these words:

There is no salvation through anyone else (Jesus), nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved. (Acts 4: 12)

Every day, make a conscious choice to forgive yourself and those who have offended or hurt you in this life.

Games and Puzzles

Find the following words in the puzzle:  Sanhedrin, Nazorean, praising, sign, John, teach, speak, Annas, answer, raising, punish

The Final Word

No good deed goes unpunished, at least not in the battle of good versus evil. How often it seems that good deeds end up dividing people, forcing them to takes sides against one another – in the name of achieving the (supposedly) same goal.

We witness so much controversy over human rights in today’s world. What is often a struggle to gain status, appears to me to be more of a defiance of self-dignity and denial of personal integrity. With all of the secrets, hidden agendas and private meetings – to what end, I wonder.

If we strip away all the pomp and circumstance, indeed all the fluff and strutting, it is almost too easy to recognize the truth. Oh, but we don’t really want to do that, do we? Because if we do, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

See you next post, with the answers to the questions.

Until next, I wish you well,

M. J.

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