Easter: Saturday of the Seventh Week

“... and with complete assurance and without hindrance he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts of the Apostles 28:31)

In commenting on this verse from today’s First Reading, Eusebius of Caesarea writes:

“And Luke, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, brought his history to a close at this point, after stating that Paul spent two whole years at Rome as a prisoner at large and preached the word of God without restraint. Thus after he had made his defense it is said that the apostle was sent again upon the ministry of preaching and that upon coming to the same city a second time he suffered martyrdom. In this imprisonment [Paul] wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy, in which he mentions his first defense and his impending death. But hear his testimony on these matters.

“At my first answer,” he says, “no one stood with me, but all forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, that by me the preaching might be fully known and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” He plainly indicates in these words that on the former occasion, in order that the preaching might be fulfilled by him, he was rescued from the mouth of the lion, referring, in this expression, to Nero, as is probable on account of the latter’s cruelty. He did not therefore afterward add the similar statement, “He will rescue me from the mouth of the lion”; for he saw in the Spirit that his end would not be long delayed. Wherefore he adds to the words “and he delivered me from the mouth of the lion” this sentence, “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me to his heavenly kingdom,” indicating his speedy martyrdom; which he also foretells still more clearly in the same epistle, when he writes, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”

In his Second Epistle to Timothy, moreover, he indicates that Luke was with him when he wrote that at his first defense not even Luke was there. So it is probable that Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles at that time, continuing his history down to the period when he was with Paul. But these things have been adduced by us to show that Paul’s martyrdom did not take place at the time of that Roman sojourn that Luke records. It is probable indeed that as Nero was more disposed to mildness in the beginning, Paul’s defense of his doctrine was more easily received; but that when he [Nero] had advanced to the commission of lawless deeds of daring, he made the apostles as well as others the subjects of his attacks.” (Ecclesiastical History, 2)

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we, who have celebrated
the paschal festivities,
may by your gift hold fast to them
in the way that we live our lives.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord is risen. Alleluia!
He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen