Lesson 4 Acts of the Apostles

acts of the apostlesFranciene and I hope that you all are enjoying this lesson on Chapter 8 in Acts, and that you are gleaning some new insights from these stories that we may have heard so many times before. I often notice that each time I read a short story from the Bible, I will see some new perspective on something that I hadn’t noticed before, and I think that’s why we can continue to hear these stories again and again, and they never seem the same to us
This was an interesting chapter to read and ponder this week. One of the things that stayed with me after reading the chapter this time was the story of Simon the magician. I guess that our human interest in things that amaze us is not new. It sounded like his audiences were very impressed with him, and verse 10 says “They all listened to him, from the least to the greatest, saying ‘This man is that power of God which is called Great.'” The text goes on to say that they all listened to him because he had amazed them with his magic, and I can only guess that he must have made some kind of predictions or pretended to have some power of their environment. How easy it is to get caught up in that kind of phenomenon! I love what our Catechism says about this in #2116:
“All forms of divination are to be rejected…conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future.” It goes on to list things like consulting horoscopes, palm reading, recourse to mediums, etc, and says that these things “all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect and loving fear that we owe to God alone.”
I think the last line of this is so important–at least it really spoke to me during this weeks’ reading. “They contradict the honor, respect and loving fear that we owe to God alone.” And of course, when the word “fear” is used here, I think it really means “awe” or a loving respect that is proper in the creature in relation to the Creator. While I certainly enjoy reading a good 19th century ghost story, and I can remember coveting a ouija board when I was a child (one of my friends had one) I think the important thing that the Catechism is reminding us is to avoid is anything that might “conceal a desire for power over time, history, and in the last analysis, other human beings…” It makes me think of how Adam and Eve chose the same sort of thing in the Garden of Eden, when they wanted to be as wise as God is, and people continue to want to be in control of things that we really have no control over.
I guess that our human nature has not changed much over time, and I have often noticed psychics and fortune tellers in small businesses along the access roads to highways in some areas. It seems that as we face problems or struggles or someone we love is in danger, many people turn to these “magicians” who they believe can jump ahead in the story and tell us how things will end. And I know that I could win a prize for worrying–if one was ever offered–and I often will “jump ahead” in my thoughts of what might happen when I am worried about something or someone.
But yesterday’s feat day of St. Therese of Lisieux reminded me of how her writings always speak of the trust and unshakable confidence we should have in God alone. I’m beginning to think that even my worrying could be a lack of complete trust in God’s mercy. When we love God and know in our bones that He created us out of nothing, sustains us each day, and loves us more than we could ever imagine, and when we feel His healing forgiveness when we are sorry for our mistakes, how can we truly doubt that we are in His hands and that He surely knows better than I do what He is doing?
One of St. Therese’s most famous statements from her autobiography reminds me that prayer is what takes us out of ourselves and our worries and unites us and all those we love and hold in prayer with the heart of God.
“For me, prayer is an upward leap of the heart, an untroubled glance toward heaven, a cry of gratitude and love which I utter from the depths of sorrow as well as from the heights of joy. It has a supernatural grandeur which expands the soul and unites it with God.”
As always, we can learn so much from our study and discussion together. Feel free to contact either Franciene or me if you have any questions or concerns. We hope that you all are enjoying a blessed week, and we look forward to seeing you next Tuesday.
You all are in our prayers,
Franciene and Karen