After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to welcome Festus. Since they were staying there several days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man here who was left in prison by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him and asked for a sentence against him. I told them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met the accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the charge.
So when they met here, I lost no time, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. When the accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the crimes that I was expecting. Instead they had certain points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wished to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of his Imperial Majesty, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to the emperor.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Since Easter the readings from Acts vividly depict Paul’s faith journey: his participation in Stephen’s stoning; his being struck by a blinding light with a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”; his difficulties in preaching about the Way to the Jewish community and non-believers; and his disputes with Peter and others over the necessity to adhere to certain Jewish practices. Paul, now charged with blaspheming the Jewish faith, appears before the Roman Governor and the Procurator and faces his accusers.
Paul recognizes his life is drawing to a close and all that remains is a journey to Rome and a hearing before Emperor Nero. In the midst of this flurry of court activity and accusations, Paul’s message is clear: Jesus has risen from the dead. He is alive!
How is this “certain Jesus” alive in my heart, words, and actions? How will I develop an ability to recognize and act on the ”Paul moment” in my life today?
―George Penman Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found Chicago’s Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and three grandchildren.
Pope Francis writes: “There is a temptation to seek God in the past or in a possible future. God is certainly in the past because we can see the footprints. And God is also in the future as a promise. But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today.
“The senses that find God are the ones St. Ignatius called spiritual senses. A contemplative attitude is necessary. Profound peace, spiritual consolation, love of God, and love of all things in God—this is the sign that you are on this right path.”
Today I pray that I might recognize the signs of “this right path.”
―George Penman Sullivan, Jr.