Before Jesus went to heaven to be with his father, he told his Apostles to stay in Jerusalem until they received a gift of power. That power came when the disciples were praying together on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon them and filled them. They immediately began rejoicing. During the days that passed after they were filled with the Spirit, the Apostles performed miracles and wonders throughout Jerusalem in front of many witnesses. As a result of the work of the Holy Spirit and the preaching and miracles of the Apostles, many men and women became believers in Jesus.
The power of God worked so wonderfully through the Apostles that people would bring their sick, injured, deaf and disabled friends and family members so the mere casting of Peter’s shadow on them would restore them to perfect health. Word spread quickly about the miraculous happenings in Jerusalem. People from surrounding towns and regions began bringing their sick loved ones to the Apostles. Everyone the Apostles prayed for was healed by the power of God.
But not everyone who heard about what the Apostles were doing in the name of Jesus was pleased. The high priest and the Sadducees, wealthy and influential members of the Jewish society, were jealous. They wanted to be seen as the most important religious leaders. They sent soldiers out to arrest the Apostles and had them thrown into prison.
But God was watching out for his servants. In the middle of their first night in prison, an angel of the Lord appeared inside the prison with them. Upon a command of the angel, the cell doors immediately swung open. The angel led the Apostles out of the dark maze of the prison and said to them, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” The Apostles began teaching at the temple very early in the morning, as soon as people began to arrive.
Around the same time, the high priest called a meeting of the Sanhedrin, which was the full senate of the Israelites, to discuss the charges against the Apostles. A team of guards was sent to bring the Apostles from the prison to the meeting. The guards returned without them. A messenger reported that the Apostles had somehow escaped from the jail and were once again preaching to the people.
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1. What were the Apostles doing in Jerusalem?
2. How did the Sadducees feel about the Apostles?
As Jesus was preparing to enter heaven after his Resurrection from the dead, he told his Apostles to stay in Jerusalem until they received power from his father.
This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. A powerful wind blew into the room where the disciples were praying together, and the men were immediately filled with the Holy Spirit. After this day, the disciples began their ministries, and this is also the period that we recognize as being the beginning of the church as we know it today.
The early followers of Jesus eventually were called Christians, a term we still use today. Although they were led by the Holy Spirit, life was not always easy for the early Christians. Some of them were arrested for their faith and put in jail. Some even gave their lives for Jesus.
The first Christian martyr was Stephen. We can read about the lives and teaching of our Christian ancestors in the books of the New Testament that come after the four Gospels.
St. Francis of Paola was born in 1416 in Italy after his parents had been childless for several years. Because they prayed to St. Francis of Assisi for intercession, they named their son after him.
When Francis was 13 years old, his parents enrolled him in a school run by Franciscan friars. A year later, he accompanied his parents on a pilgrimage. He was so touched by this experience that afterward he devoted his life to solitude and prayer.
He lived alone in a cave for several years when two other men joined him. Some neighbors built a chapel for them so they would have a place to pray and celebrate Mass with a local priest.
These men radiated love toward everyone, and years later the community helped them to build a church and a monastery with the blessing of the archbishop. He eventually ministered to two kings of France. He died in 1507, and we honor him on April 2.