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Acts 27: Storm and Salvation for All
There is a relatively little-known account of a very violent storm experienced by Paul. It is narrated in chapter 27 of the Acts of the Apostles. In the Catholic liturgy since the Second Vatican Council, less than half of the Book of Acts is read, and chapter 27 not at all. The readings move directly from Acts 25:13b-21 to Acts 28:16-20, 30-31. What they omit is an amazing episode! We have an extraordinary storm, a variety of vicissitudes, a miraculous but seemingly natural outcome. We have Julius, a humane centurion, a strange meal, an angel who appears during the night, and Paul himself. He is depicted as calm and courageous, serene and believing, generous and intelligent. It is an adventure from which only pirates are missing. But why this lengthy narrative? Why does Luke spend so long telling us about such a storm? Why this scene, one of the longest in the book and the longest toward the end of the book? Why not give an account of Paul’s martyrdom? Chapter 28 of Acts, which begins immediately after the storm, is shorter and contains no spectacular details. Thus, Acts ends with an anticlimax, an ending that in part is frustrating, leaving the reader wanting to know more.

Let us ask the following question: what does Luke want to relate that was important for the Church of his day and for us? He is not writing an entertaining adventure novel: he writes to edify, to nurture faith, as a religious writer. As believers, we are aware that the whole New Testament offers us theological content. So does Luke with his Gospel and the associated Book of Acts. Certainly, Luke shows his ability with some brilliant writing and subtle allusions, but he does so to talk about faith. Christians have recognized his work as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit who wants to tell us something in this scene. This should serve not only to entertain us, but to engage us regarding the faith. But what exactly? What are we being told that is still important for our faith today?
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2024
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