Today’s reading: Acts 22:17-29
Today we read a short passage of how the crowd of Jews rejects Paul after he tells them that Jesus sent him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The resulting fury of the crowd compels the Roman tribune to remove Paul from the Temple. For good measure, he decides to have Paul scourged.
However, after he is tied up, but just before the scourging is about to begin, Paul lets the guard know that he is a Roman citizen. One of the privileges of Roman citizenship is that they are not allowed to suffer the punishment of scourging. A quick inquiry is made and the punishment is canceled.
It has always struck me that one reason God must have chosen Paul for the task of evangelization is that he was both Jewish and Roman. Thus, he was capable of traveling in both worlds. Another lesson we learn from this incident is about suffering. We know that suffering is valuable. Paul will write that he is happy to suffer for the kingdom of God and the salvation of souls. However, notice, we are not called on to suffer needlessly. Paul could have kept silent and suffered the scourging but he didn’t. He told the Roman guards and prevented it. As Christians, we are therefore not called to suffer needlessly. However, when suffering does come, we should embrace it, bear it lovingly and offer it up for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of souls.