Welcome to this Pray as you go short retreat on the Acts of the Apostles. The Acts of the Apostles is a book found in the New Testament of the Bible that we only usually get to hear from during the season of Eastertide. By listening to the story of the early Christian community, we can see what effect the Resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost had on that first, very small group of Jesus’ followers, and by reflecting on this, we can discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our own lives, and open ourselves more fully to the spirit of Pentecost.
Introduction to the Text
The Acts of the Apostles isn’t designed as a stand-alone text. Instead, it’s designed to accompany the Gospel of Luke, who was a companion of Paul on his missionary journeys. Like the Gospel, Acts has a short introduction where he addresses his reader and patron, Theophilus, directly. In the Gospel, Luke addressed everything that “Jesus did and taught”, but now moves on to the story of the early Church, from its birth at Pentecost to its success among the Gentiles all the way to Rome. However, Acts isn’t simply a historical narrative; it builds a theological message into the lives of the individuals in the narrative. We can perhaps see here something of Luke’s pastoral focus. In his Second Letter to Timothy, Paul describes Luke as ‘the beloved physician’ and his only companion in prison. Luke is intimately concerned with the individual lives of particular people, from the major figures in the early Church like Peter, Paul and Stephen, down to the lesser known individuals like Ananias, the man who baptised Paul, to whom he gives not just a name, but also gives us some insight into their personalities and characters.
These five reflections will focus on four key themes of the Acts of the Apostles; The Holy Spirit, The Christian Community, Discernment, Conversion and Preaching the Good News. Each reflection will begin with a short introduction, followed by a passage of Scripture and some questions for reflection. These themes and reflections are far from exhaustive, but provide a basic overview to the Acts of the Apostles. Our friends at Thinking Faith also have articles on both Acts and the Gospel of Luke to help deepen your understanding as you follow this short retreat. Before we begin these reflections, it’s worth asking yourself what exactly do you want to receive from the Lord as you hear these reflections. What graces do you want to receive?