Monday, May 18, 2009

When The Advocate Comes

Luke's log of the journey of Paul and Silas (continued)

We set sail from Troas, and made a straight run for the island of Samothrace, and the following day we tied up at Neapolis (New Town) on the gulf of Kavalia. From there we went on foot to Philippi, the main city in Macedonia, and, more significantly, a Roman colony, where we stayed for several days.

On the Sabbath, we left the city and went down to the riverside, where we heard there would be a prayer meeting. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a dealer in fine textiles named Lydia, was a God-fearing woman who listened attentively to what we had to say; the Lord opened her heart, and she believed!

After she and her household were baptized, she extended an invitation to us: “If you are confident that I am a believer in the Lord, come to my home and be my guests.” At first, we hesitated, but we soon realized it was an offer we could not refuse.

A few days later, when we went to the place of prayer near the river, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit by which she foretold the future. She made a great deal of money for her owners as a fortune teller. She began to follow Paul and the rest of our group, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they are telling you the way to be saved!” She kept this up for several days, until Paul became so troubled that he turned around and shouted, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her!” And the spirit left her forthwith.

When the owners of the slave girl realized that there money-maker was gone, they seized Paul and Silas, brought them before the local magistrate and said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing the peace!”
(Acts 16:11-20)

(To be continued)


After they had completed the Seder Banquet, Jesus spoke to his disciples.(continued)

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will give witness about me. You also must give witness, as you have been with me from the start.

I have shared all this with you so that you won’t fall away. They are going to throw you out of the synagogues. In fact, the time is coming when those who put you to death will think they are offering service to God. They will do these things because they don’t know the Father, and they don’t know me.

I am telling you these things so that when the time comes, you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you until now, because I did not want you to be afraid.
(John 15:26-15:4)


In his Farewell Address to his disciples, Jesus promised them the Holy Spirit, who would guide them in what to say on their mission to bring the world to knowledge of the truth. But at the same time, he warned them that their mission would not always be well received. To the contrary, they would first be laughed at and ignored, then be run out of town, and eventually, be arrested, tried, found guilty and executed. Why didn’t he tell them these things until the Last Supper? Simple: He did not want them to get scared and leave.

Today’s first reading gives us examples of both phases of Jesus’ prophesy of how the mission of the Apostles would be received.

On the Sabbath, Paul and his companions go down to the riverside, to the place where the Jews in Philippi gathered for prayer. They spoke to the women (Luke gives the impression that there may have been no men there), and met a textile dealer named Lydia, who offers them hospitality. Paul and his companions, Timothy Silas and Luke, stay with her during their stay in Philippi.

The Greek text describes the goods Lydia sold as purple cloth. Purple cloth was very costly, because it was difficult to make. The dye came from a shellfish; it was white when first collected, but on exposure to the sun, the liquid changed to bright purple and red colors. It took a lot of shellfish, and a great deal of work to provide enough dye for even one garment. The beautiful cloth was used mainly by members of the royal families and by Roman senators, who had purple bands on the edges of their togas.

Yet once again, the tide changes. The next time the four missionaries go down by the riverside, they are accosted by the young slave possessed by the evil spirit. The girl is exorcised, but her owners are not pleased. We will hear more this incident in tomorrow’s reflection.

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