search instagram arrow-down
Charles Johnston

Recent Posts

Blog Stats

Follow Now That I'm Catholic on

Now That I’m Catholic Facebook


Top Posts & Pages

Past articles

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 19,622 other subscribers

Follow me on Twitter

The Bible In A Year: Day 119

Psalm 119
Acts 5

Our reading in Acts today is tied to the end of the previous chapter. There we see lots of the followers of Christ and many of the new converts giving up all their possessions willingly to live in a communal setting. This is very much like how Catholic monastic orders live in communities with no personal possessions and all work is shared among the members. Unlike political communes, these religious ones work well because they have a binding principle, a belief in a higher power, and it’s all done voluntarily.

Theres the generosity of spirit that one must have in order to give all that you have to a community and live without possessions. Not everyone is called to this, but many of these early followers were.

Then there was Ananias and Sapphira, and they’re the opposite of who is called to this life. They sell a piece of land, not all there land as far as we know, and take a small portion of the proceeds and give it to the disciples. They say it’s all the money from the sale, but Peter knows he’s lying, and after a brief discussion Ananias drops dead. His wife was in on this fraud, and when she comes around a few hours later the same fate befalls her.

They weren’t obligated to sell their land, and once they did sell it they weren’t obligated to give the money to the community, but they did and they lied about it. They tried to have the adulation of the community for being so generous as to give all the money from this sale, and also make a profit on their sale. They’re no better than the worst of the Pharisees and for that they die because the lie they told was blasphemous against God.

The high priest again tries to have Peter and the apostles stopped by arresting them in the evening, holding them in the prison overnight and then dragging them before the Sanhedrin again in the morning. But when they convene the court and call for the accused, the captain reports that they’re not in the prison. Then reports come that they’re actually out at the temple courtyards teaching about Jesus. An angel had sprung them from prison in the night and now they’re back doing what they’ve been warned not to do.

Peter tells them, in no uncertain terms, that they will not obey any order to stop preaching the good news. He says “we must obey God rather than men” and this is the basis for Christian civil disobedience and even uprisings when necessary. The people of Mexico put up with anti clerical laws for as long as they could, but when diplomacy and common decency broke down they were forced to take up arms to defend their faith. This is a legitimate use of force, even against your own government, if they’ve left you no other option.

The legitimate authorities demanded Peter quit preaching and for almost any other demand he’d be obliged to obey, but since he had a command from God to spread the good news, this conflict of orders meant that he was bound to obey the law of God over the law of men.

The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” “We must obey God rather than men”: When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel

CCC 2242

After Peter throws out another “whom you had killed” to the priests and scribes, they go into a rage and want to have him killed. But a wise and respected teacher among them named Gamaliel stood up. He was renowned as a Torah scholar in his day and is mentioned as the teacher of Saint Paul in his days as a Pharisee.

He has some sage advice for the council, he reminds them of several false messiahs and says that if these followers of Jesus are a man made religion they just destroy themselves and be forgotten by history. But if they are a movement of God’s then the council won’t be able to stop it, and wouldn’t want to anyway,

Saint Luke closes out this episode by saying that the council takes the advice, but then he tells us that they were beat, ordered to stop talking about Jesus and then thrown out. So the took 90% of Gamaliel’s advice because they needed to get a couple more licks in.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
1 Samuel 12-13
Psalm 120
Acts 6

Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: