I have taught a Bible class in every parish where I have served for these forty-five years. It is not true, as some think, that Catholics do not read the Scriptures. They do. What is true, however, is that we can never read the Scriptures enough.
One of the more neglected books in the New Testament, I regret, is the Acts of the Apostles. Sometimes spoken of as the first history of the Church, it is a fascinating account of the early preaching and journeys of the apostles, particularly St. Paul. The Acts of the Apostles begins with the Ascension of the Lord (Acts 1:4, 6-12) and with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13) in Jerusalem. The book ends in Rome. Arrested and brought before King Agrippa, St. Paul speaks a stirring defense recorded in Chapter 26:1-23. The Apostle to the Gentiles had already appealed his judgment to Caesar (Acts 25:11), which was his right as a Roman citizen. To bring the message of the Gospel to the capital of the Empire is to see the Lord’s command at the beginning of Acts approaching fulfillment: “[Y]ou will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
I am always deeply moved when I read the account of St. Paul’s approach to Rome (cf. Acts 28:11-15). The places named are along the Appian Way. To this day they exist. He enters Rome and under house arrest continues his preaching (cf. Acts 28:16). “Let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen” (Acts 28:28). These are St. Paul’s final words in Acts: “They will listen.” Do we listen? Do we heed the message?