Paul- speaking truth to power- Friday, 4th Week of Easter- Acts 13:26-33

The lectionary breaks down the long homily of Paul into three parts. Today we hear the second part of the homily. Paul, in narrating salvation history, invites the listener to accept the reality of Jesus and His mission which was for “the forgiveness of sins” (13:38), and which would come about, through “a baptism of repentance” as preached by John the Baptist (13:24).

As I said yesterday, in proclaiming this salvation history, Paul does not fight shy to assign blame where it lies. Having already confronted his listeners to what God had to “put up with” – the Israelites (13:18) and by extension the people, he now lays the blame once again on the Jewish religious class for killing Jesus.

Paul reminds the Jews in Antioch of Pisidia of their great lineage; they are descendants of Abraham. In doing this he cleverly lays ground for the Jews in this region to distance themselves from the actions of “the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders” (verse 27) who “did not recognize Jesus, or understand the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath”.

Paul not only exonerates the Jews of Antioch, but in a way encourages them to disassociate with the murderous actions of their “bothers in Jerusalem”, “who asked Pilate to have him killed”(verse28), even though they found no guilt in Him. For a people under Roman oppression, the actions of their brothers in Jerusalem, that of betraying a fellow Jew to Pilate, the enemy, was tantamount to treachery and betrayal.

This is not the first time we see Paul so masterfully place his case before the people. He who was a lettered man will later tactfully incite the differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees in a trial in which they plotted to bring him down. It is sufficient to say that the children of this world are therefore not to think of themselves as mere lambs before the slaughter or as innocent as doves, without acknowledging their call to also be as wise as serpents in the face of their accusers.

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