Paschal Ponderings

Meditations on the Acts of the Apostles

Paschal Ponderings

Continuing in her long series of daily meditation books (three annual volumes plus two for the Great Fast, one for the Christmas Fast and one for Mary), Marianne Sailus has now written a book for the Paschal season. Each meditation in this book first lists the reading for the day from Acts of the Apostles. Next, there is part of a Homily on Acts of the Apostles by St. John Chrysostom (347-407) that addresses a section of the reading from Acts for that day. Finally, the reader is presented with a series of questions on a topic covered in that day's reading and homily for personal reflection, followed by a closing prayer. 160 pages with several color icons from the Acts of the Apostles. A perfect companion to continue the celebration of Pascha.

This book is available from Eastern Christian Publications at its website: The cost is $20.00.

Sample Meditation

Day 11: Wednesday of the Second Week of Pascha
Reading: Acts 4:13-22

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

"I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes!"  This is a statement that we've probably said at least a few times in our lives.  It might be the size of a particular vegetable, an awesome sunrise or sunset, or even a technological wonder of some kind.  And this same line of thinking is what Peter and John use against the Jewish leaders in today's reading from Acts of the Apostles.

"And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they [the leaders1] could say nothing against it.  But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, 'What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it'" (Acts 4:14-16).  They were confounded, and they had to come up with a solution – but not one that would cause a riot to occur among the believers. 

Their "solution" is found in the next verse: "But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name."  For some people, this would have been enough to deter them from their mission.  But not so for Peter and John.  Perhaps they remembered Christ's words when He was among them, ""Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:34-35). 

St. John Chrysostom writes, "Great was the boldness of the man; that even in the judgment-hall he has not left them.  For had they said that the fact was not so, there was he to refute them.   But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, What are we to do to these men?  See the difficulty they are in, and how the fear of men again does everything.  As in the case of Christ, they were not able (as the saying is) to undo what is done, nor to cast it into the shade, but for all their hindering, the Faith did but gain ground the more; so was it now.  What shall we do?  O the folly!  To suppose that those who had tasted of the conflict, would now take fright at it: to expect, impotent as their efforts had proved in the beginning, to effect something new, after such a specimen of oratory as had been exhibited!  The more they wished to hinder, the more the business grew upon their hands.  But what say they?  For that indeed a notable miracle has been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.  But that it spread no further among the people, let us straightly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.  And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all, nor teach, in the name of Jesus" (Homily 10 on the Acts of the Apostles).

The Leaders then threatened them to cease teaching in the Lord's Name.  But they did not realize how strong was the faith of these men, and how much they believed in the Lord and intended to spread His message among the people.  They commented, "So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done" (Acts 4:21). 

Imagine if we, today, stood together and glorified God for all the good that He has accomplished.  Our voices, collectively, could drown out those of the naysayers who wish to wipe out Christianity throughout the world.  But are we too weak to do this?  Will we worry that our praises of God will become reprimands from others – employers, neighbors, even family members?  In other words, do we seek the praise of man more than we seek the Face of God?  This is a question each of us must answer for him/herself.  Let us pray, that in the words of the Prophet Joshua, "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).

Dear Lord, give us the strength that we need to face ignominy for Your Name's sake, no matter what the cost.  Help us to imitate Peter, John, and all who have defended sharing the Gospel message with the world, even when it cost them their freedom or their very lives.  Help us, also, to pass on this faith to the next generations, so that they, too, may be defenders of Your Word, and purveyors of Your Gospel message.  Amen.

1 "{The] rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest" (Acts 4:5b-6).