The first Reading is from Acts 28:16-20, 30-31.
“…When he entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.
Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews, he explains to them that he did nothing against “our people” the Jews; nevertheless, he was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem. After trying his case, the Romans wanted to release him. They found nothing deserving the death penalty. But when the Jews objected, he was forced to appeal to Caesar; even though he had no accusation to make against his own nation. Paul wanted to make it clear he was on the side of Israel, not against her. He said “I am a hostage here for hope, not for doom.”
…”He remained for two full years in his lodgings. He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Luke presents Paul throughout Acts, as the model missionary who always has a vision of what mission is all about. It appears, as it is not verified for sure, that Paul is the first missionary in Rome. Of course, it is worth noting that Jews are suspicious of the Christian mission; all they hear about this “Christian sect” is that everyone around condemns it.
The success and safety of Paul, the missionary, gives a lift, a vision of hope to Luke’s missionary communities.
Paul welcomes everybody, both Jew and Gentile. His teaching centers on the theme of Jesus, fulfillment of God’s promise about his Kingdom. By describing in detail the work carried on by Paul, Luke strives mightily to show that the gospel message of salvation is unhindered by class, religion and economic distinctions.
In other words, it is to be shared with outcasts as well as well-bred; with Jew and Gentile; poor and rich. Also, this message, as well as those who deliver it, should not be interfered by Jews or by Romans. The very existence of Paul, the Pharisee and Christian, loudly proclaims the Christian message as a valid outgrowth of Judaism.
Luke also tells his missionaries that they should preach the message boldly, even if they are hindered like Paul, by imprisonment. However, chains are incidental, they should not be an obstacle, nor hinder the progress of the gospel. During those years of Paul’s “house arrest,” he continued teaching how the Christian way stands in harmonious continuity with Judaism. Luke presents Paul to his communities, as a vision of what it means to be carriers of God’s Word.
“Paul spent so much of his time in and out of prisons, it has been estimated he was in prison at least the total of 6 years. It has been proposed that Paul could be a patron of hope for the prisoners. He used his prison time for prayer and conversation about faith and trust in God. Although his body was confined by bars or walls and chains, his spirit was not!”
Let us pray to be filled with the boldness and the burning desire to spread the Word among everyone, from any walk of life or belief; those we know well or those who we hardly know, just as Paul did during those two years he was imprisoned in a home. He opened his home to all who wanted to come and hear the News.
What is stopping us from doing something like that? What are our chains? Who are our guards? Let us reflect a bit on these questions and on anything else that may have touched you while reading this Scripture Passage. What is the vision that God has for you and for me? And how are we going to fulfill it?” Or, perhaps, how are we going to discern it if it is still a bit unclear?
The Gospel reading comes from John 21:20-25. “…Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him (John) he asked Jesus, Master, what’s going to happen to him?
Jesus said, if I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me. That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, if I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?
This is the same disciple who was eyewitness to all these things and wrote them down. And we all know that his eyewitness account is reliable and accurate.”
This passage makes it clear that John must have lived to a very old age. This passage also tends to assign to John his place, much as the previous one did with Peter. It appears John’s function was to be preeminently the witness to Christ.
The people in the early Church, learning that John lived until a very old age in Ephesus, perhaps wondered what his function was, especially until he was so old that he was past all activity. And the obvious answer is that John is the witness of Christ. He was the disciple that could truly say “I saw these things and know they are true.”
To this day, the final argument for Christianity is Christian experience. The Christian is the person who can say “I know Jesus Christ and I know that these things are true.”
In the case of John’s function, according to God, he was to be a witness to the story of Christ and to live to great old age and to meet his end in peace.
John, just as was Peter, was a true servant of Christ.
There is a song I like very much, entitled “Bloom where you are planted.” Its lyrics would perhaps apply to what God is telling us here. Let a person serve Christ, wherever Christ has set him or her. Remember Jesus telling Peter “never mind the task I am giving someone else, your job is to follow me. No need to compare or compete.”
This is what He is still telling each one of us. Our glory is not based on comparisons with someone else. Our glory is solely the service of Christ in whatever capacity he has designated to each one of us.
The gospel of John has now come to an end.
Perhaps, we may realize more realistically now, how very finite and limited we are as human beings. More so, because we have not even used but a fragment of the God given gifts we have received.
John is in awe of Jesus Christ. He undoubtedly knows so much about Him. Whatever we know of Christ, we have merely grasped a very small part of who He is. Whatever the wonders we may have experienced in this life, they are nothing as the wonders which we may yet experience.
Human categories are powerless to describe Christ and human books are inadequate to hold Him.
We may want to try experiencing Him with the eyes of our hearts and by practicing true love for one another, as He has asked of us.
Let us all go now into the world and joyfully witness the Lord and our faith to all those with whom we may come in contact. AMEN
Please meditate on the Resolution of the Dekaena to the Holy Spirit.
Pray for PAPA priests, pray daily the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.