Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 23,23-35

Then he summoned two of the centurions and said, 'Get two hundred soldiers ready to leave for Caesarea by the third hour of the night with seventy cavalry and two hundred auxiliaries; provide horses for Paul, and deliver him unharmed to Felix the governor.' He also wrote a letter in these terms: 'Claudius Lysias to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. This man had been seized by the Jews and would have been murdered by them; but I came on the scene with my troops and got him away, having discovered that he was a Roman citizen. Wanting to find out what charge they were making against him, I brought him before their Sanhedrin. I found that the accusation concerned disputed points of their Law, but that there was no charge deserving death or imprisonment. Acting on information that there was a conspiracy against the man, I hasten to send him to you, and have notified his accusers that they must state their case against him in your presence.' The soldiers carried out their orders; they took Paul and escorted him by night to Antipatris. Next day they left the mounted escort to go on with him and returned to the fortress. On arriving at Caesarea the escort delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. When he had read it, he asked Paul what province he came from. Learning that he was from Cilicia he said, 'I will hear your case as soon as your accusers are here too.' Then he ordered him to be held in Herod's praetorium.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Roman tribune, upon learning about the conspiracy against Paul, reacts immediately in conformity with the law. It dispatches a military detachment to escort Paul to Caesarea. The tribune is convinced that Paul is the victim of a plot; this is why it attempts to remove Paul from the group of Jews who wanted to condemn him. Almost literally, what happened to Jesus occurs again. This time, however, Paul remains prisoner of the Romans. In chains, escorted by a good number of soldiers, he begins to travel the road that leads to Rome. That the text informs us that the Roman representative was convinced of Paul’ innocence points to a deeper truth: more than a prisoner of the Romans, Paul is a prisoner of Christ. Through this bizarre and unjust judicial event the proclamation of the Gospel travels towards Rome, heart of the Empire. We could say that the Lord mysteriously guides history, even working by means of unjust events. In Caesarea the governor kept Paul in Herod’s praetorium to await a new trial.