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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

From the Acts Today

"Tomb of Saint John the Apostle" by Me, but logged in at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - 

That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him.But Saul was ravaging the church by entering house after house; dragging off both men and women, he committed them to prison.

"Simone Cantarini - São João Batista em Meditação" by Simone Cantarini - Scanned from Boletim do Instituto de História da Arte do MASP (1997). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - 

Today, we read in Acts 8:1-8 of the outbreak of persecution against the Catholics immediately after the martyrdom of St. Stephen. Jerusalem, of course, was the center of the persecution at this time. It seems that only a few disciples and the apostles remained in Jerusalem. It is at this time that St. John would have taken Our Lady Mary out of Jerusalem to Ephesus, the third largest city in Roman Asia Minor, with a population, perhaps, of about 45,000 to 56,000, close to the population of Biloxi, Mississippi and smaller than Maple Grove, Minnesota. Ephesus would have been a good place to go as it was large enough to hide in and close enough to get to easily, most likely by ship. 

St. John had to have some income of substance to take Mary up to Ephesus and make a home for her. Ephesus is one of the seven churches in the book of Revelation, and St. Paul was there for two years between 52-54. Tradition notes that Mary died and was assumed into heaven at about the age of 63. If she was 18 at the time of Christ's birth, for example, Mary would have left this earth in the year 45, seven years before St. Paul's stay, and only 12 years after the Ascension. She would have, then, lived in Ephesus for those 12 years. We know that St. John lived to be old, as his last work was written about 100, making him, at least in his late 80s or early 90s, as tradition has it that he was a young man of less than 20 when he was called to follow Christ. Again, tradition has passed down the fact that he died about the year 100.

"Rubens apostel johannes grt" by Peter Paul Rubens - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

The scattering of the Catholics spread the Gospel, so that eventually, even the apostles moved to other lands. All were martyred except for St. John, who endured the Cross with Christ on Gethsemane and was, therefore, spared martyrdom. That Mary was safe in the care of the resourceful St. John, not only a mystic and evangelist, but a resourceful protector, reveals that God chose a good man to take care of His Mother, Mary.

My little chapel here is called St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs at Ephesus. However, God has not given me a young John to help me in my exile. I note today that there are few if no places to run and hide now in this world, if persecution is worldwide for Christians.