90 Day Challenge – Day 89

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Bible Time Period: The Church

The Church carries on your work in the world: Make me a faithful ambassador of your love.

Reflection

The rest of Acts has to do with Paul’s arrest and imprisonment in Caesarea and the trials that lead to his journey to Rome and ministry there.  Paul has had to suffer much for the gospel, but in Acts 23:11, the Lord himself stands by Paul and gives him courage.

Today’s Reading

Acts 21-24

Today’s Question

What in Paul’s testimony in Acts 22 most arouses the Jews’ anger?

Join the discussion below!

Sarah Christmyer

Sarah Christmyer is co-developer with Jeff Cavins of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program. She serves as Strategic Consultant of The Great Adventure and is author or co-author of a number of the studies. Sarah has thirty years of experience leading and teaching Bible studies. She helped launch Catholic Scripture Study and is co-author of “Genesis Part I: God and His Creation” and “Genesis Part II: God and His Family,” published by Emmaus Road. Sarah has a BA in English literature from Gordon College in Wenham, MA, and is working toward a Masters of Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. Raised in a strong evangelical family, she was received into the Catholic Church in 1992. Sarah also writes at comeintotheword.com/.

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  • Janet

    Everything seemed to be fine when Paul addressed the Jewish converts until he mentioned the Gentiles. The Jews had pride in the fact that they have always been God’s chosen people. I wonder if they thought, ‘If the Gentiles join our ranks, doesn’t that lessen our importance in God’s eyes?’ I don’t think they could accept that Jesus died for ALL, not just the Jewish nation.

  • Margie

    Because it was the Jews who were against Paul and wanted to murder him, they become more outraged when they learned he was a Roman citizen and couldn’t be executed. They were so determined to see him done away with, they plotted to steal him away from the Romans to execute him themselves. Paul was very well educated and knew how to speak so others would listen to him. This is why Jesus trusted him to spread the “Word” but it was also his downfall because he frightened the Jews who were against him, that they wanted to see him dead.

  • Marian Potts

    When he said he told to preach to the Gentiles, they became enraged. They were isolated from the Gentiles so not to become contaminated by their worship of idols so this was anathema to them.

  • Susan

    I was taken by Paul’s determination and bravery to speak on his own behalf to the Jews who wanted to harm him – I believe he was bound and determined to use a last opportunity to teach or to be able to properly represent himself and not use a go-between to say what he felt had to be said. You can feel the depth of his conviction as you read his emotional story of his journey from persecuting the Lord to his belief in Jesus Christ and in life everlasting. The Jews were captivated by Paul’s testimony to his beliefs until he included the Gentiles – as long as Paul spoke referencing his growth within the Messianic Law and the teachings of the Old Testament through the prophets, his audience was captive.

    At the mention of the Gentiles being part of the New Covenant, the Jews became murderous once again. Why would mention of the Gentiles be such a catalyst? Based on our previous readings it would seem to rest on the circumcision of God’s people versus the lack of circumcision as found in the heathens that worshipped pagans and idols. The Jews cannot get past this physical characteristic to see that a person’s belief and acceptance of the Lord’s teachings trump a physical trait. The Jews are unable to pull on their own teaching from the Lord, Jesus and the disciples to recognize a believer of the same truths that they believe.

    This lesson is good for us so we see past a person’s heritage, race, religion or some other differentiator. What we see on the outside is not telling of what is inside. A good lesson indeed.

  • 1st of all, Paul’s testimony highlights the Jews’ sinfulness, and they react violently. Then the idea that the Gentiles without becoming Jews could share their privileges aroused fury. Not that the Jews forbade preaching to the Gentiles; on the contrary, our Savior reproached the Pharisees, that they would go over land and sea for the sake of making one proselyte. They were likewise enraged that Paul had not laid on the Gentiles the heavy yoke of the law.

  • Elaine Boone

    In Acts 22, Paul tells his story of conversion to the Jerusalem Jews. They listen quietly until in v. 21 he says that the Lord sent him to the Gentiles. The footnote says that “Paul endeavors to explain that his position on the law has not been identical with that of his audience because it has been his prophetic mission to preach to the Gentiles to whom the law was not addressed and who had no faith in it as a way of salvation.” At this point the Jews become enraged. My guess is that the Jews so hated the Gentiles for being outside the covenant people, unclean and unworthy, that they couldn’t conceive of their God/Christ sending Paul, a Jew – albeit a Christian Jew – to what they considered the swine of the earth. Therefore everything Paul said before that could not be true. At that point they started a riot.

  • pnkyB4brain

    When Paul began to preach to the Jews and brought up the Gentiles that accepted the faith of Jesus, Our Savior, the Jews displayed utter disdain for Paul. One must understand the Jewish disgust for the Gentiles. During the Jewish history recorded in the Old Testament, these people were not of the Jewish faith and were regarded as a lower class of people. Could there have been a smidgen of jealousy when Paul verbally admonished the Jewish people for their apathetic reaction to the teachings of Jesus whereas the Gentiles embraced what the followers of Christ preached? Could it be that the Jewish people didn’t want their content life, as tenuous as it was, be disrupted? Did the Jewish people have such incredible closed minds that they refused to open their hearts to the teaching of Jesus?
    I think the answer is Yes, most definitely, to all the questions! What Paul was preaching about, rocked their world as they knew it and the generations before them, too. How can you include unclean people into the synagogue or other places of worship? Sad to say, this type of thinking has gone against what Jesus said. “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28:19

    • Pnkyb4brain and Marianne,

      I wanted to share this with you. It may be nothing to you but for me it was Gigantic.
      When My son AJ was in the hospital October 12th, 2013, a Monsignor came to bless him and said “I am coming back tomorrow- it’s the 13th and the feast of our Lady of Fatima, and AJ
      is in bed 13 so we will pray for a miracle.” Just before he left, a doctor asked if we could all say a prayer together, and when Msgr. asked if there was any prayer in particular, the dr. said “A Prayer from St Anthony”.
      So we said the prayer, which the doctor had memorized, and it was a very long prayer which amazed us, and upon finishing, Msgr said “The feast of St Anthony is June 13th.” So that was 3 – 13’s in a row. Well the number 13 came up dozens and dozens of times since that day in unbelievable fashion. As I said the last message I was receiving signs but rejecting them so as not to be deceived by false signs just because I was so distraught. Just before last Easter 2014, I was very troubles, crying and prayerful. Now watch this video that I linked you to: It was too hard to describe to everyone so I made this short video. This day was a great day for me in Faith.
      If you send me your emails, I will gladly share another GREAT sign. God Bless You, your families are in my prayers, and HAPPY EASTER to YOU ALL!
      https://youtu.be/C24OJ9haft8

      • Margie

        Thank you for sharing this video with me. I was very touched and a true believer of signs. Too often we don’t take them serious enough, yet am reminded after it happens. After seeing the video my eyes immediately went to the year when you lost AJ, 2013. When both of my parents passed away, (7 years apart) the first time it happened, the night before for my Dad, when I said good night to him, he told me he loved me, and I held his cheeks, looking deeply at him and said “I love you too Dad.” The next morning he was gone. 7 years later when I said good night to my Mom, she told me she loved me, and I said “I love you too, Mom,” so sincerely, without giving it a second thought. The next day she passed away. When I later remembered the coincidence I asked myself if they were waiting for me to say those words? As a teenager, I was such a horrible person, and may have cursed them as an insolent brat, yet they wouldn’t leave this world until I said those words with such sincere love. God has a plan for us, sometimes we just miss the signs. Thank you again for sharing, yes I would like to see more, my email address is margiedomingo@hotmail.com

        • another fact I realized almost a year later-his Bday is August 5 (8-5)
          It just never stops that 13 🙂

      • pnkyB4brain

        Anthony, God bless you for sharing such a wonderful gift! I need to watch it over and over because there is so much to absorb. I, too, have a problem about signs as I am so afraid the signs might have some sort of bad news. Your story gave me hope and absolute wonderment in the way God can ease our pain. Please have as wonderful an Easter as you can. Sue, otherwise know as pnky.

      • Marianne

        I give it 13 thumbs up, Anthony! Wow and wow and wow…
        I can’t imagine the heartache that never goes away…

        I’d love to see more. mariannedzk@metcursillo.org

      • Kevin

        I also send 13 “Thumbs Up” for you & AJ!
        ksmalinak@ptera.net

        • Thank You. It’s been enlightening doing this study with you this year. Happy Easter God Bless You :*-)

      • Tracy

        That was beautiful. God bless you and your family Anthony!

      • Ok so I just finished a prayer for St. Paul to guide me on my way forward especially when I start reading his epistles, and I come to learn that he wrote… 13 letters.

      • Rosi

        Thank-you so much for sharing your story and the video. You have been given a beautiful gift from God in the midst of the terrible lose of your son, AJ. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. May God forever keep you in His loving care.

  • Barbara Ann Baugh

    Since tomorrow is the last day of this journey. I thought Gee I wish I could send Sarah a bouquet of flowers. Then I remembered the practice of sending Spiritual bouquets I am thinking of perhaps praying a mass for her intentions or a Novena there are lots of possibilities

    • jacqueline

      They’re all lovely ideas. I will offer a mass for her intentions. Thanks for the reminder to give thanks in everything Barbara. Love and blessings.

      • Barbara Ann Baugh

        Thank-you for responding I hope others see this post.

    • Rosi

      Wonderful idea, Barbara. I will pray a rosary and pray a mass for her.

    • pnkyB4brain

      Barbara, what a tremendous idea! Let’s also add Jeff Cavins in the spiritual bouquet. I will be glad to add and say a rosary for their intentions. What a super idea! Thank you and May God bless you always.

    • Kevin

      Thank you Barbara, I will join you with a Rosary as my Bouquet for this year, March, 2015!!!

      • Janet

        I will join you, Kevin, with a rosary that will present to our Lady a beautiful bouquet of roses representing Sarah’s intentions.

        I pray that each of you who have been on this wonderful faith journey will receive blessings this Holy Week. May you end it with a grace-filled Easter. God bless each and every one of you!

  • jacqueline

    A bit of a de ja vu here. There are some similarities between Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 and Paul’s testimony in Acts 22. For example, the charges trumped up against Stephen and Paul was fabricated by false witnesses. (They did the same with Jesus). Their defences were similar in the fact that they both chose to give an account of their lives though their accounts differed in the fact that Stephen turned back to the Old testament where he identified himself with the prophets Acts
    7:1-53. Paul identified himself as one of the Jews “I am a Jew, Paul said, and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia, I was brought up here in the city…” Acts 22:3 and also gave an account of how he persecuted the early church until his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and the vision of the risen Christ in Acts:7&9.

    Paul’s life-changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus changed him forever.
    He suffered, was persecuted, endured brutal pain, was imprisoned and finally suffering martyrdom – He did all these fearlessly and with a passion with which he spread the gospel. He is one of the greatest missionary. He truly imitated the life of Jesus Christ.

    In answer to the question: The part of his testimony that most aroused the Jews’ anger is when he spoke about his vision. “Go I am sending you out to the gentiles far away” Acts 22:21. Paul wanted to bring the good news of Jesus to his people, but in his vision, he was told the Jewish people would not believe him. They didn’t believe Jesus either and condemned him to death.

  • Barbara Ann Baugh

    The Jews are angry because Paul is admitting Gentiles to the Faith.

  • Judy

    This is my first post and I know that it is probably late in the day for most of you, but I just wanted to express my appreciation for everyone’s comments during this study. I have read your comments when I wanted to be sure that my thoughts were in line with everybody elses and when I wasn’t even sure what the answer to the question was.

    I am sad that this study is ending tomorrow for I will miss all of you. Thank you Sarah for organizing the study and all of your thoughts and reflections.

    • Barbara Ann Baugh

      I too am sad the study is ending. I feel like the people on the beach bidding farewell to Paul. On April 1 I will resume my individual journey through the Bible. It will not be nearly as beautiful as this journey had been.

      • Liz. Picker

        This is my first post but the journey has been great..I have thoroughly enjoyed all your discussions….all so genuine and meaningful. I will miss reading these discussions each night..but I have saved them so can bring up at different times. Thank you all for making this Bible Challenge so rewarding. Lizzie

    • Rosi

      I, too, am sad the study is ending. I want to thank everyone for all the comments they shared. It has been a wonderful journey!!! I, too, haven’t posted much…but have gained so much by reading others. I hope some day our paths will cross again. I will lift you all up in my prayers.
      Sara…thank-you for all that you do to teach us….strengthening our Faith, and helping us grow in God’s Word!

      • Kevin

        Thank you Rosi, These are my feelings as well. Sincerely, -kevin-

        • Rosi

          God bless you, Kevin.

          • Kevin

            Thank you Rosi, May God bless you too!

      • Marianne

        Rosi, I will miss your friendship and wisdom.
        God bless you, my friend!

        • Rosi

          Thank-you Marianne. I, too, will miss you and all the heartfelt sharing that you so beautifully shared. I will keep you in my prayers and truly hope that our paths will cross again. God bless you!

  • Liza

    Good to read all your comments. I am amazed by Paul’s tenacity.
    In my life, at moments of low faith and questions of “what am I doing here?” I have wondered if my faith is all a fabrication, a self deception. Reading about Paul, facing the possibility of beatings, imprisonment and almost certain martyrdom at some stage, I see a man driven to communicate something he cannot hold in: the life of Christ and the message of His salvation completely takes over his life and Paul is propelled by this to risk everything for Christ. This is a big challenge to me. I am not like Paul. I have to pray for much more faith, a greater openness to the life of Christ to be expressed through me.

    • Marianne

      I think I understand Paul’s drive. I am also a “late bloomer”. I feel I have so much to atone for, having walked blindly on the wrong path for so long…

      • Michelle

        You are not alone Marianne! As Paul said because of his certainty that Jesus’ way is the right and only way, “I try my best to have a clear conscience in whatever I do for God or His people. Beautiful and simple words for each of us to live by. Have a blessed day!

  • Marianne

    “And when the blood of your witness Stephen was being shed, I myself stood by giving my approval and keeping guard over the cloaks of his murderers.” (Acts 22:20)

    Immediately after Paul declared his own guilt of approving of the stoning of Stephen, the Jews got angry because they felt it was a declaration of their own guilt. Rather than examining their own consciences, they lashed out at the person who inadvertently called those who oppose the New Covenant “murderers”. They followed the Mosaic covenant, but didn’t that covenant say “thou shall not kill”? Paul’s powerful witness testimony pierced right into their self-righteous souls. These are the kind of men who would pray (like the Pharisee), “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11) Because they observe “the law”, they believe themselves to be sanctimonious and superior to others. They are like the Jews in today’s Gospel, who questioned over and over, how can the blind man now see. Yet they are the ones truly blind.

    • Fisher

      And yet, and yet, and yet…..Just as Christ on the Cross continued to implore, teach and beg forgiveness for the sinners, so does Paul continue to try to reach these stiff – necked people! Thank you, Lord for every day I rise in this world; it is another day of grace, an opportunity to soften my heart more completely in order to be the disciple you keep calling me to be.

      • Marianne

        Yes, and yet again… I must also be careful not to judge the sinner. I must not say, “God, I thank you that I am not sanctimonious like the Pharisee”… In preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday, we must remember to pray for mercy… “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us… and on the whole world”…

        • Fisher

          Amen!

  • Avila

    It seems to me as if underneath the anger that Paul was preaching to the Gentiles, was fear. For generation after generation, the Jewish people had been God’s chosen people, they had received many great blessings from God and also had undergone great sufferings. Throughout their history, it had been interactions with Gentiles that brought out their weaknesses and led them astray, so it is not surprising that they would shift the blame from their own weaknesses to the Gentiles.

    When we are afraid, we hit out irrationally and some of those Jews may have been terrified that Paul’s preaching to the Gentiles, would have plunged them back into Old Testament times of worshiping false idols. These Jews were being asked to take a massive leap of faith and being human, many had the heavy baggage of self-righteousness, pride, arrogance, fear, self-preservation and a whole plethora of other emotions.

    When I think of those Jews and some of the faithful today, I still see similar fears and weaknesses. For example, whenever Pope Francis was misquoted it caused no end of lengthy online counseling sessions on the Catholics Answers Forum (CAF). It was almost unbelievable how many links to source documents, apologetic explanations (video and written) and calming messages seem to be needed before reason started to overtake hysteria. It is the same in parishes and dioceses, when something new or strange is introduced or something is brought back. We are comfortable and cozy, and even if we are open to change, each one of us has at least one molehill impersonating a mountain to overcome. Thanks to God, He is helping me overcome one of my molehills ahead of a new potentially new focus coming in.

    • Marianne

      Amen, Avila! Very well said.

    • Beverly Hagar-Schmerse

      Dearest Avila…I am right with you on this…I have been going through my own agonies for some time now…and have found much of the fear, pain, agony, blaming, pride, arrogance, anger, self-righteousness that the Jews and many of us today feel. God has led me to write almost a book of poems that are out of my struggles, pain, agony, hope, and faith…so that today I feel quite good about who I am and where I am going. I have no way of sharing that with others, except through posting a few of them in this forum, or on facebook, and with my friends and family. I can only pray that God gives you the grace to faithfully help others on their own quests to God. I think that, in the end, is what each of us is meant to do.

      • Marianne

        Thank you for sharing your poems with us! You cover a broad array of emotions that many of us struggle with at various points in our lives. That’s one reason why I love the Psalms so much!

        Beverly, you can always self-publish. Are you aware of that? You have a wonderful God-given talent. Let your voice be heard!

        • Beverly Hagar-Schmerse

          Thank you Marianne…after you told me this, I went ahead and did self publish with AuthorHouse last year. The little book of poetry is called “Reflections: A Book of Hope and Forgiveness” is on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble site…That was a cleansing experience for me; and this year, my Spiritual Director encouraged me to engage less online, journal more, and be more engaging with my friends and family…exploring the 5 Basic Love Languages with them…this has been very exciting, and I have come to understand the real meaning of Redemption…the Redemption God gave us all in the precious Gift of His Son…And this is a very freeing place to be for me….And I am grateful for the deep love God gives us through His Son…

          • Marianne

            I will be getting that book! You have a gift, Beverly. When I get my site up and running, I’d like to promote it for you!

            Journaling is a very rewarding experience. May God continue to bless you with insights. The Hope He gives is meant to be shared with the world…

    • Fisher

      Very on target a year later. Fear is, indeed, the source of all our deadly sins, beginning with pride.

  • Carla Archuleta

    As Paul gives such detail about his testimony with Jesus he had the crowds attention, but once he preached to them about the Gentiles the crowd is stirred up. At this point, he was imprisoned, which was done mostly to keep the crowd from stoning him and leaving him for dead.

    I am amazed at Paul for giving them such a beautiful testimony about his discipleship for Jesus knowing that it could cost him his life. The ongoing comparison of life back then and today is that as humans one is so quick to judge others. Many times people take the most defensive side of what is being said, which leads to ugliness of ousting people out.

    I pray that I work at strengthening my journey for God. And, In doing so that I follow his path for eternal salvation with God some day. God give us to stay on your path most especially during such testing of times. God Bless us all!

  • pnkyB4brain

    When Paul recounted that God wanted to send him to the Gentiles as he prayed in the temple, the Jews that were listening to Paul’s testimony were incensed. Clearly this was like a red fag to them because the Gentiles were “unclean” according to the Jewish faith and they didn’t want anything to do with this person that was also as unclean as the Gentiles.
    Sometimes I wonder if I am like the Jews at this time when God is calling me. I inadvertently would say, “I’m busy right now, could I take a rain check?” Or, “Why bother, what good will it do to answer such a request.” I honestly don’t think I do that to requests I receive from God, but I can be very focused in what I am doing at work, let’s say, and the simple act of charity will escape me because I am “busy”. That is when God works in His mysterious ways. I need to listen to God’s messages and act upon them, not ignore His requests.

    • Beverly Hagar-Schmerse

      St. Ignatius’ rules were to help us look at what was keeping us from moving closer to God. The following poem may help to find God in your surroundings and in other ways that he messages us….

      In the Following
      Most of my life I have been about accumulating stuff.
      Stuff started to become important when I was but a mere child.
      Now it seems I haven’t been able get near enough.
      I now realize that concern for mankind
      Should have been more on my mind.

      So I have decided to give away some of my things
      Each Friday through this Spring.
      As I drive to the drop off, I say a little prayer
      In hopes that the poor will forgive me
      For being so lacking in their care.

      Another thing that keeps me from God,
      Has been that I always try to stay so busy
      That I don’t face the problem that really
      Is keeping Him at a distance.
      Today, however, I will choose to face it,
      Though God is not being instant.

      As a result of these two little revelations,
      My focus will be on signs that God shows me.
      If it is a thought about my accumulations,
      Then I must set some of those free.
      If it is a person walking on the street,
      Then I’ll look to what God would want me to see.
      If it is a situation, I’ll try to look with clear eyes,
      Asking God to tell what He wants for Him to be my guide.
      If it be an article, not judging this way or that,
      But listening for God to tell me how I should react.
      The results may not be what I would have expected,
      But it is what God wants dealt with and not neglected….
      For we are His hands and feet,
      To the person on the street.

      • pnkyB4brain

        Beverly, What a beautiful verse! I like what I read and will print it out so I can remind myself ‘not to stay so busy’. Thank you.

      • Kathy

        I love the idea of taking “stuff” to the poor on each Friday of Lent. We have so much in this country and so often cling so tightly to our possessions that it seems it would be a wonderful Lenten exercise to donate a portion each week.

        • Barbara Ann Baugh

          The remark about “stuff” hit home with me. Today I am packing my Fall and Winter “stuff” to be sent to storage. (I have a tiny apartment that I share with my son)
          While I was packing them the thought came into my mind that “will I ever wear these again” I have incurrable cancer that currently is in remission. Although sending Fall and Winter clothes to charity now would be counter productive. When I bring my Spring and Summer Stuff down I will reduce it,