Closing the Books

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter
May 27, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we close the books on the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John. Eastertide ebbs into the fiery sunset as Pentecost is paused to rush over the earth.

A large part of the Acts of the Apostles is devoted to Paul and his missionary journeys. The final verses today give us a last look at Paul as he finishes his ministerial life in Rome:

He remained for two full years in his lodgings.
He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance
and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God
and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 28:30-31

Paul is believed to have died a martyr’s death under the persecutions of Nero between 64-68 A.D. If you would like to read more about Paul’s extraordinary life, here are a few recommended biographies:

  • Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity by James D. Tabor, a professor of religious studies (Simon & Schuster, 320 pgs, 2012)
  • Paul Apostle of the Heart Set Free by F.F. Bruce, a professor of biblical criticism and exegesis (reprint: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 522 pgs, 2000)
  • Paul: A Critical Life by Jerome Murphy-O’Connor O.P., a professor of New Testament studies (Oxford UP, 432 pgs, 1996)

John the Evangelist – Valentin de Boulogne

John’s Gospel ends with this summary verse:

It is this disciple who testifies to these things
and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.
There are also many other things that Jesus did,
but if these were to be described individually,
I do not think the whole world would contain the books
that would be written.

The book I have been using as a study guide for the past several weeks closes with this evaluation:

The Fourth Gospel preserves the testimony of the Beloved Disciple, which brings about an encounter with the divine Word to all who read it in faith, from the time of its author until today.

Martin, Francis; Wright, William M. IV. The Gospel of John (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, Baker Publishing Group

If you would like to delve a little deeper into John’s spirituality, I recommend Raymond E. Brown,S.S., one of my favorite Biblical scholars

A Retreat With John the Evangelist: That You May Have Life

Poetry: Apostle by Malcolm Guite

An enemy whom God has made a friend,
A righteous man discounting righteousness,
Last to believe and first for God to send,
He found the fountain in the wilderness.
Thrown to the ground and raised at the same moment,
A prisoner who set his captors free,
A naked man with love his only garment,
A blinded man who helped the world to see,
A Jew who had been perfect in the law,
Blesses the flesh of every other race
And helps them see what the apostles saw;
The glory of the lord in Jesus’ face.
Strong in his weakness, joyful in his pains,
And bound by love, he freed us from our chains.

Movie: If you need a movie to watch this weekend, this one is done quite well on the life of Paul.

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