My oldest – Grace Anna Johnson – turns 29 today. I remember that day 29 years ago like it was yesterday. It is hard to believe how time has slipped by. She is a beautiful person whom I love very much and I am proud of all she has accomplished. She couldn’t have asked for a better present than to have her 3rd child, her 1st daughter a mere 8 days ago. I remember getting a phone call the evening she was born. I was in the hospital room with Sarah and Grace when the bedside phone rang. It was supposedly a random photographer contracted through the hospital. He did his brief intro explaining his contract with the hospital and would like to schedule an appointment to take our daughter’s picture. What he said next floored me. He said although he understood my daughter to be rather homely looking it didn’t matter – he held no prejudices and took pictures of all the babies regardless of their good looks or not. Needless to say I was flabbergasted…do you remember that phone conversation my brother and prankster who will go nameless here but they’re initials are J.D.? And for those thinking it, it wasn’t Jim, right John? Happy Birthday Grace.
Just as in yesterday’s readings, we find again in today’s readings someone lurking in the background.
From yesterday’s first reading…They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.
From today’s first reading…Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.
I can only imagine how many devout Jews at the time of Jesus harbored some really negative thoughts about His mission and now, how is Apostles just won’t shut up about this “resurrection thing”. They didn’t believe that Christ was the Messiah and didn’t want to have anything to do with this new movement and were willing to persecute and even kill those who did. So why is it that the accounts of persecutions given in Acts of the Apostles are very specific in naming one man by the name of Saul? I am taught by specifically naming Saul, the author gives credibility that these events actually took place and those of us reading this 2000 plus years later can understand the trials the first Christians endured. But I also believe they singled out Saul to show how the true power of Christ can change change even the hardest of hearts. As we will soon read, Christ knocks Saul off his “ass” and challenges Saul with the question “Why do you persecute Me?”. We all know what happened to the man Saul once he allowed Christ to enter his heart…he took on the name Paul and went on to convert many people to the Christian faith.
Are there times when we need to be knocked off of our proverbial asses? Spend some time in thought about that today.
Gift #5 of the Holy Spirit – Knowledge is the ability to judge correctly about matters of faith and right action, so as to never wander from the straight path of justice (II/II.9.3). Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition. For today’s reflections on knowledge I’ve gone back to a previous site that offers a very in depth reflection on this gift. Please take some time reading and reflecting on this today.
As always, do something great for the Lord today.
God’s will, not mine be done.
Be not afraid.
Jesus, I trust in You.