April 6, 2011 // Uncategorized

St. Paul summons priests to the Church

Where is Miletus where St. Paul spoke to the priests?

St. Paul was in Troas in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and he wanted to go to Jerusalem by way of Miletus. So Paul traveled overland to Assos, an ancient city south of Troas where the philosopher Aristotle taught in 348-345 B.C. Here Paul boarded a ship and sailed to Mytilene, which is the Greek island of Lesbos off the northwest coast of Turkey. This island is famous for its 7th century B.C. lyric poets Alcaeus and Sappho.

The next day Paul reached a point opposite Chios, a Greek island that claims to be the birthplace of the ancient poet Homer. Two days later Paul crossed to Samos, a Greek island that was the birthplace of the ancient mathematician Pythagoras and was a principal commercial center. Paul sailed past Ephesus on the Turkish coast and landed at Miletus, a great coastal city with four harbors and a large trade and literary center. Miletus founded colonies on the Black Sea, in Egypt and in Italy. Paul summoned the priests from Ephesus to meet him in Miletus, a journey of 30 miles.

In his speech to the priests, Paul reminded them of repentance for sin and faith in Christ. Paul said that suffering and imprisonment lie ahead for him. Paul asked the priests to shepherd the Church well. Paul predicted that some men will distort the truth of the Gospel and lead others astray. By hard work, the priests must help the weak. Paul concludes his speech by recalling the words of Jesus: “There is more happiness in giving than receiving.” These words of Jesus are not recorded in the four Gospels. So here we see that the Gospels did not write down everything Jesus said. That is why Catholics look not only at the Bible, but also at Sacred Tradition.

Miletus today is an extensive archaeological site. It was the birthplace of Thales, the father of philosophy, in the 6th century B.C. Thales stressed the fundamental unity of the physical world and showed that the world can be explained. Thus he moved Greek thought from myth to science. When I was in Miletus, the refreshment stand for tourists was called “Thales’ Bar.”

D. Darke describes the sites of ancient Miletus that Paul visited. There is a magnificent theater set into a hillside seating 15,000 people. There are crumbling remains of Byzantine fortifications, while marble lions, Roman baths, marketplaces and the Delphinion, a sanctuary of the god Apollo, which was the chief religious center in Miletus. There also is a gymnasium, a Nymphaion that distributes waster to the city, the Buleuterion or council chamber, the harbor monument, the Baths of Faustina erected by the wife of the philosopher Marcus Aurelius. In the “Frigidaire” or cold room of these baths, there is a marble lion with water running through its mouth. 

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