Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Acts 25:13b-21; John 21:15-19)
Jerome Murphy-O’Connor died last year. For a while at least he probably knew as much as any Catholic scholar about the apostle Paul. One of Murphy-O’Connor’s books is entitled Jesus and Paul: Parallel Lives. According to the author the two had much more in common than one being the prodigious proclaimer of the other. We can find one of the parallels among the two men in today’s first reading.
In Luke’s gospel Jesus’ case presented a singular problem for Pontius Pilate. The Roman procurator felt Jesus’ innocence but had to contend with the angry Jewish leaders. When he heard that the Jewish king Herod Antipas was in Jerusalem, he referred the matter to him. Herod recognized Jesus’ innocence and sent him back to Pilate who betrayed his conscience by sentencing him to death. The Roman procurator a generation later is a man named Porcius Festus. He has to deal with Paul who was brought to him much like Jesus to Pilate. Because Festus is undecided about Paul’s innocence, he invites the Jewish king Herod Agrippa II to hear his story. Like his ancestor determined of Jesus, Herod Agrippa finds Paul innocent. Festus, however, finds a way to avoid giving making a final judgment. Since Paul as a Roman citizen asked to be tried by the emperor, Festus sends him to Rome for judgment.
We too can live parallel lives to Jesus’. He lived as a simple person like most of us. When we are patient in suffering, always loving and serving others, and intent on our relationship with God, we become like Jesus.