We meet the apostles Paul and Barnabas. Once again, they are attack. Not everyone appreciated their preaching, and we hear today they had to flee to avoid the crowd that was seeking to stone them. We heard about one of their healings, the cure of the cripple man. The crowds became ecstatic. It happens today. We hear of people going to different parts of the world once they hear that something extraordinary happened.
Do I dare do what the synagogue official did that day that Paul was in the congregation, ask is there anyone among us who has a word of exhortation for the rest of us to hear? Would anyone like to speak in response to the Scriptures that have been proclaimed for us today?
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Some people listening to Saint Paul’s conversion story might be inclined to think that those things just do not happen anymore. Wrong. They happen every day. Every day people are falling to the ground and like Paul are helpless. They were powerless. Some unfortunately never get up. Like Paul, those who fell to the ground were able to get up with the help of someone else. For many that someone else was God, Jesus.
When the court officers brought the apostles in and made them stand before the council of elders, the high priest questioned them. They said the apostles were given orders not to mention Jesus’ name, yet they filled the crowds with their teaching. Peter did not deny their accusation and boldly accused them of being complicit in the death of Jesus. They became infuriated and wanted to put the apostles to death.
I was intrigued by an article I read about the Miracle of the Holy Fire that appeared in a newspaper at Easter time. Orthodox tradition holds that the Holy Fire happens annually on the day preceding Orthodox Easter. During this time, blue light is said to emit within Jesus’ tomb. The light is believed to form a column of fire, from which candles are lit. This fire is then used to light the candles of the clergy and pilgrims in attendance. Pilgrims and clergy say that the Holy Fire does not burn them.
While visiting parts of Brazil or the Dominican Republic, I was often reminded of the scene in the Acts of the Apostles, as I witnessed people in need seeking help as I was walking in and out of various churches.