But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them (Barnabas and Paul), seeking to turn away the proconsul (Sergius) from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.” (Acts 13: 8-11)

Now, the Apostle Paul is not “nice” to the magician, having looked at him “intently.” (I can just imagine that “look”). Nor is the author of the Book of Acts, the Apostle Luke, very “nice,” offering us a cartoonish description of how Elymas, having been blinded, “went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.” The early Christians, to whom the Book of Acts and other New-Testament writings were read aloud, in community, must have been laughing aloud at this moment of apostolic humor. And some of them must have nodded knowingly, hearing about Paul’s “look,” – those of them who had met St. Paul and knew what it meant to have him look at someone “intently”! And yet we know that both Paul and Luke were “filled with the Holy Spirit,” Who, apparently, is not devoid of directness and a sense of humor.

I have no profound theological point to make here. Just enjoying the Church’s reading for today, which tells me that it is not always “right,” in the Holy Spirit, to be “nice,” nor is it always “wrong,” in Him, to have a sense of humor.

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