Step #1: Lectio / Read
Wishing to determine the truth
about why Paul was being accused by the Jews,
the commander freed him
and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene.
Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.
Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees,
so he called out before the Sanhedrin,
“My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees;
I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.”
When he said this,
a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees,
and the group became divided.
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection
or angels or spirits,
while the Pharisees acknowledge all three.
A great uproar occurred,
and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party
stood up and sharply argued,
“We find nothing wrong with this man.
Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”
The dispute was so serious that the commander,
afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them,
ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst
and take him into the compound.
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage.
For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem,
so you must also bear witness in Rome.”
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Evangelization doesn't happen by accident!
St. Paul is being dragged before the Sanhedrin, the court of the Jews. His life is at stake. It's Paul against the whole Sanhedrin. But the Lord did not wish for this to be the end for him. He wanted Paul to carry the gospel message all the way to Rome. To even the odds, Paul employs his God-given creativity and ingenuity.
He knows that some of the Sanhedrin are Sadducees and some are Pharisees. These two groups disagreed vehemently on whether or not God would resurrect us from the dead. Even before Jesus' time, the Pharisees believed in a resurrection from the dead, but the Sadducees believed that idea was preposterous.
Paul knows this. So instead of defending his own case, he simply pits the two groups against each other, effectively dividing the Sanhedrin against itself. All he says is one simple sentence, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead." Naturally, the Pharisees are suddenly on Paul's side and the Sanhedrin are bickering with the Pharisees.
I always imagine St. Paul chuckling to himself as he sits back and watches the group of people that wanted to convict him pull each other apart instead!
Sometimes we Catholics forget that evangelization doesn't happen by accident. The Lord wants us to use our gifts of creativity and ingenuity to bring His message to others. There's no one-size-fits-all approach that you can apply to anyone at any time, like "Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?"
In the gospel of Matthew 10:16, Jesus tells us to "be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves." We Catholics are not ignorant people with an unfounded religious belief. We believe in the very Truth that sustains and permeates all of creation! We've each been given an intellect and a unique set of gifts... Let's use them!
Don't just employ an over-simplified, one-size-fits-all method of evangelization. Pray for inspiration from the Holy Spirit to get creative! If the gospel message is a delicious chocolate cake, then the frosting is the way you present it to others... So switch up the frosting! Like St. Paul, know your audience and adjust the way you present the gospel accordingly!
In this way, the gospel truly becomes the Good News meant for all people!
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
"Be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves."
How often do you evangelize and share your faith with others? Think back to how many times you've tried to evangelize in the last week or two.
What seems to be the most common way you evangelize?
Ask the Lord to reveal some of your unique gifts and personality quirks to you, and how you might use those to evangelize in a new and creative way.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would give you a heart for evangelization. That He would fill you with Himself and inspire you to share the Good News with others.
Spend some time contemplating with Jesus the great honor and grave responsibility He's given you as a bearer of His Good News.
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves."
"Inspire my heart, Holy Spirit!"
"Jesus, give me a heart for your people."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Look for at least one new and creative way you can share your faith with someone today. Give them the same delicious chocolate cake, but switch up the frosting. It doesn't have to be a big deal. Just make it... different.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff.