What Do You Mean, We? A Quiz and Two Lessons in Honor of St. Paul’s Conversion

Who wrote the Acts of the Apostles? St. Luke.

What is the book about? The beginnings of the Church. The beginnings of the mission entrusted by Christ to us human beings who humbly put our faith in Him.

For whom did St. Luke originally write the book? For Christians who spoke Greek, which means both Gentile and Jewish converts. At that time, Greek was the language that the world had most in common.

Saint Luke
St Luke

Who are the two most significant heroes of the Acts of the Apostles—other than the Holy Spirit, of course? Saints Peter and Paul.

How many times do we read about St. Paul’s conversion to Christ in the Acts of the Apostles? Three times. St. Luke narrates the event once, in chapter 9. Then St. Luke recounts St. Paul telling the story of his conversion twice. Once before to the Jews in Jerusalem, and once before the Roman procurator, on the Mediterranean coast.

The details remain the same in all three accounts. Lord Jesus spoke from heaven to the zealous Pharisee, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

But when St. Paul told the story to his final audience, which included non-Jews, he added something. When the Lord spoke from heaven, He asked Saul about persecuting Him, and He also employed a common Greek expression to try to help St. Paul come to his senses: Saul, why do you kick against the pricks?

A yoked ox must learn to submit to the farmer. A prick, or goad, will stir an idle ox to action. But at first the ox doesn’t understand that the goad means, “Move!” So the ox kicks when pricked, instead of stepping forward. The kick just makes matters worse and exacerbates the pain. The ox has to learn that the prick means, “Step forward, dummy!”

Let’s take a lesson from Lord Jesus saying this to the young Paul. A farmer driving an ox knows more about what’s good for the ox than the ox does. Likewise, God knows more about what’s good for us than we do, left to our own devices. We prosper when we submit to God and obey Him.

Second, let’s take a lesson from St. Luke writing the Acts of the Apostles the way he did. Submission to God involves participating in the living, breathing institution that Jesus founded when He was on earth.

One thing St. Paul never thought was, “My relationship with God is my own independent, personal business.” He knew that he needed to belong to the People of God. The question was, “Who is the we? Who are we, the People of God?”

The answer he got: the one, visible Church founded by Jesus, presided over by St. Peter and his successors in office. An institution full of foibles, to be sure. But united nonetheless by the divine Gift, the Holy Spirit of Christ.



Song of Moses in Eternal Context

They were holding God’s harps, and they sang the song of Moses. (Revelation 15:2-3)

The chapters of the book of Revelation which precede the passage read at today’s Mass narrate the struggle between the evil forces marked with the sign of the beast and the chaste legions marked with the name of the Lamb. In these chapters, the last book of the Bible’s mystical account of the great drama of salvation nears its climax.

The Man comes around.
Now, when we keep the Vigil of Easter in the springtime, we generally sing a good number of psalms and canticles. But let’s just say we couldn’t sing all those psalms, for some reason. Let’s say we had to celebrate the Easter Vigil quickly, because we were on a battlefield, or in jail.

There is one of the Vigil canticles that we absolutely, positively have to sing, no matter what. Without this one particular Old Testament canticle, it is impossible to grasp the full meaning of the holy night of Easter.

Here’s a hint: Sing to the Lord! He has covered Himself in glory!

Who sang this? Moses and the people with him. They sang it because God had covered Himself in glory by doing what?

Casting Pharaoh’s horses and chariots into the sea. Delivering the Israelites from slavery. Leading them forward to the Promised Land.

The Sacred Scriptures make clear the full meaning of the ancient Passover of the Israelites. We read from the book of Revelation: The harpists standing on the sea of glass, who had won victory over the beast: They sang the song of Moses. Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God Almighty!

Faith turns the strife and drama of life on earth into a hopeful pilgrimage. Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. He has risen and has ascended on high, to the pinnacle of the heavenly Mt. Zion. When Moses sang, he really sang about us; he sang about the chosen ones who believe in the victory of the Son of God. The Lord will deliver us from all evil, and the eternal Promised Land awaits. Therefore we keep the feast.

Sweet Covers

What could be better than the simultaneous experience of:

1. Eighties nostalgia AND

2. The edgy sound of the noughts?

How to get both?

Try these excellent covers:

Boys of Summer” by the Ataris

In the Air Tonight” by Nonpoint

Smooth Criminal” by Alien Ant Farm

When Doves Cry” by the Be Good Tonyas

Time After Time” by Quietdrive

Girlfriend in a Coma” by Jerry Chapman

Personal Jesus” by Johnny Cash

Wednesday Night Miscellany II

Major General Charles Champion Gilbert
Major General Charles Champion Gilbert

Gwen Stefani was in the air earlier this evening. It is time for another Wednesday Night Miscellany.

Andrew Jackson Higgins
Andrew Jackson Higgins

If you read Wesley Pruden’s column, you know that Andrew Jackson Higgins had a “pleasantly malicious expression.”

Mr. Higgins was a New Orleans businessman.

His company built the plywood landing boats which brought our troops to the beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944…

…Why is it wrong to kill abortionists? Here is an excellent answer

…Did you know that there was a “Preacher’s Regiment” in the Union Army in the Civil War? It was full of Methodist circuit-riders from Illinois…

Continue reading “Wednesday Night Miscellany II”

Easter Season Exegesis, Part I

fourthhorsemanWhen he broke open the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature cry out, “Come forward.” I looked, and there was a pale green horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades accompanied him. –Revelation 6:7-8

If you have not given a listen to this Johnny Cash song, I heartily recommend it. (Click the link and the audio play button. The video is a Johnny Cash look-alike, who does not do the song as much justice as this guy.)

…All kinds of strange things in the water bottles these days. Sometimes it is hard to keep your cool.

Here is the first in a four-part series of homilies on Pope Benedict’s message to the United States when he visited a year ago…

Continue reading “Easter Season Exegesis, Part I”