Acts 25:13-21; PS 103 The Lord has established his throne in heaven; John 21:15-19
First things first.
Today in the first reading in Acts, we encounter some intriguing figures.
King Agrippa and Bernice arrive to visit Festus.
King Agrippa was the great grandson of Herod the Great, the one who tried to kill the infant Jesus and who killed many children, thus the feast of the Holy Innocents in December following Christmas. He was a ruthless man, tyrant of longed for power, prestige, wealth, control and the list goes on.
His son Agrippa the I was the one who beheaded the apostle James and put Peter in Prison.
Again, not a very kind and caring person.
Wich brings us to King Agrippa II of today's readings, who was in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice. HE sold out the Jews for the sake of being known as a friendly to the Roman Empire.
Festus was the governor of the region of Judea and eventually got Paul's case to be heard in Rome, since Paul was a Roman citizen.
These are the elites of the society; they are gathered to make a judgment on St. Paul and his religious convictions.
IT sounds familiar. This reality is unfolding even today. The Elite of our Society are trying to make a judgment on the religious convictions of the church, especially in light of the HHS mandate.
Religious liberty is never what it seems. It sounds good on paper but in reality there is always some one who wants to hinder or stymie the reality of liberty, giving it conditions and or restrictions.
This is why the church is asking us to pray for our government.
What does Paul do in the face of the elite that have come to make their presence known. If you keep reading Acts then you will discover that paul simply remains true to himself and to his convictions and lets them have it full throttle.
Paul tells his story of faith and his encounter with the Risen Lord and how he is sent to proclaim the message of faith no matter what.
Toward the end, Paul wraps up his comments with these words, "...this was not done in a corner...I would pray to God that sooner or later not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am except for these chains."
"This was not done in a corner." In other words the faith cannot be lived only behind closed doors. It must be broadcast wide and far.
Paul did not let the status of his onlookers or spectators to interfere with the message. He gives it clear and full as it was meant to be, without changing or alteration.
May we too be like him unchained, free to express and to deliver the message.