Friday — Seventh week in Ordinary Time
It would be well to read this entire section of Acts in order to get the full story. Apparently, many ancient rulers liked to amuse themselves by having intelligent prisoners or slaves speak to them. Following today’s first reading, King Agrippa is so impressed with Paul that he says he is almost persuaded to become Christian.
Herod had kept John the Baptist in prison, and he like John’s message. Unfortunately, his sinful life prevented his change of ways. Pilate seems to have been impressed with Jesus so much that he wanted to release him. But he feared a riot. Agrippa and his host, Festus, were impressed with Paul. But too many attachments prevented their conversion.
Conversion is more than intellectual commitment. We may be intellectually convinced that we should be Christian or that we should change our ways. But our problem is our attachment to this world and to our sins. Sins are the “hidden agenda” behind many pressure groups which oppose the Church on divorce, birth control, abortion, the “gay life style” and so on. What a pity that we do not have the courage to change our ways and our will as well as our belief. But let’s not look to others, but to ourselves: Do we really, wholeheartedly follow Christ in every aspect of our lives?
Also St. Bede the Venerable (673-735 A.D.)
Bede was a voluminous writer. He is best known for his “Ecclesiastical History of the English People.” He wrote down to earth commentaries on the Scriptures which were widely used. Other than his writing, his life as a monk was faithful but uneventful. When news of his death reached the continent, Boniface (later “Saint”) declared, “the candle of the Church, lit by the Holy spirit, is extinguished.”
Also Pope St. Gregory VII (1021-1085)
Born Hildebrand, Gregory was of ordinary stock. He was a faithful monk who became secretary to several popes, and succeeded to the Chair of Peter in 1073. He set about reforming the Church, seeking to free it from simony, lay investiture, and from unchastity on the part of the clergy. Because of his adamant stand against lay investiture, he incurred the wrath of many European kings. The most famous confrontation was when he excommunicated Henry IV and declared him deposed. Henry met him, apparently penitent and barefoot, in the snow at Canossa.
Also St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi (1566-1607)
A Carmelite nun, she experienced mystical power. She willingly suffered in behalf of all vocations to the Church.