Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Only Bear Witness
Today, Paul is finally in Rome. A chain of events took place to get him here and bear witness to Jesus. Paul has certainly had God’s guiding hand. But amid the number of speeches, imprisonments, twists and turns, it’s easy to get lost in the story. We need a map.
I leave you with a guide to what happened since the time Paul was seized and detained in Jerusalem. It is difficult to understand the whole story just from the readings at Mass, so I offer this for your own understanding of the big picture.
As the Church recounts year after year the story of St. Paul, the Apostles, and all the Saints, let us remember the words of the Lord: “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
A Guide: From Jerusalem to Rome
From Acts 23:12 and following
- In Jerusalem, the Jews plot to kill Paul.
- Paul’s nephew learns of it and tells Paul.
- Paul sends his nephew to Lysias the commander with the news.
- Lysias has Paul escorted to Felix the governor with a letter of explanation.
- Now in Caesarea, Felix has Paul held in custody until his accusers arrive.
From Acts 24
- His accusers arrive and present formal charges to Felix against Paul.
- Felix motions Paul to speak, who defends himself.
- Felix postpones the trial until Lysias comes back.
- Paul is kept in custody, but with some freedoms and visits from friends.
- A few days later, Felix summons Paul and listens to him speak about Jesus.
- Felix grows disconcerted with Paul’s words about the Way, in light of his adulterous marriage.
- Felix keeps sending for Paul, hoping he will offer Felix a bribe for a favorable judgment.
- Two years pass, and Felix is succeeded by a new governor, Festus, with Paul left in prison.
From Acts 25
- From Caesarea, Festus goes to Jerusalem and hears the Jewish leaders’ charges against Paul.
- The Jewish leaders ask Festus to send Paul to Jerusalem (they plot to kill him).
- Festus invites the Jewish leaders to come to Caesarea to try Paul there.
- Back in Caesarea, Paul and the Jewish leaders appear before Festus on the tribunal seat.
- Festus asks Paul if he is willing to stand trial in Jerusalem, but Paul appeals to Caesar in Rome.
- A few days later, King Agrippa and Bernice visit Festus.
- Festus consults with Agrippa regarding Paul’s case.
- Agrippa becomes interested and wants to hear Paul speak.
- The next day, Agrippa and Bernice sit in the audience hall among the prominent people of Caesarea, and Festus has Paul brought in.
- Festus addresses the audience and Agrippa, asking for a determination of Paul’s charges before sending him to Caesar.
From Acts 26
- Agrippa bids Paul to speak, who gives his testimony and proclaims Jesus.
- Festus interrupts and says Paul is mad; Paul retorts and wishes that all who hear him might be convinced that Jesus is the Messiah.
- Festus, Agrippa and Bernice withdraw and agree that Paul does not deserve death or imprisonment; he could be freed, but he has appealed to Caesar.
From Acts 27
- We set sail for Italy under guard, making a stop at Sidon where a centurion allowed Paul to visit with old friends.
- At Myra in Lycia, we transferred ships, only to face strong winds and heavy storms thereafter.
- Paul warned the sailors of the damage and loss sure to come, but they paid little attention.
- Along the coast of Crete, the ship was struck by a strong wind and storm.
- Adrift now, many were losing hope, but Paul stood up and encouraged us all with a vision he received and by having us share a meal.
- Spotting land, they planned to run the ship ashore, but they struck a sandbar and ran the ship aground.
- The soldiers were going to kill the prisoners, including Paul, lest they escape, but the centurion we befriended stopped them; all reached shore safely.
From Acts 28:1-14
- We learned that the island was Malta, and the locals took care of our needs.
- Paul was helping gather wood and got bit by a snake, but he suffered no harm.
- Paul laid his hands on the sick father of the local chief, and many others who heard of it came to be healed by him.
- Three months later, we set sail and stopped at Syracuse, Rhegium, and Puteoli where we found some brothers. And thus we came to Rome.
Reflection by Br. Luke Kral, OSB