Scripture Reading — Acts 8:9-25
“Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” — Acts 8:19
In the movie The Godfather, Michael Corleone inherits the godfather role reluctantly. He doesn’t want the job at first. But like most people, he finds his father, Vito, the patriarch and crime boss, difficult to resist. So Michael steps in to shepherd the family’s business and avenge the loss of his older brother. He will end the bitter war between crime families by eliminating rivals—all of them.
So he gives orders, and while he is in church, standing as godfather for his nephew’s baptism, his hit men do their work. On behalf of the child, the priest asks him three times, “Will you renounce the devil and all his works?” And three times Michael responds, his words echoing off the walls of a mostly empty church: “I renounce them. . . . I renounce them. . . . I renounce them.” Interspersed with these renunciations, the movie shows scenes of Michael’s revenge killings as one rival boss after another is gunned down. The unforgettable sequence is called “Baptism of Fire.”
In another setting—a real event—the apostle Peter meets a powerful man who wants God’s power but would use it for his own ends. He even tries to buy this power! But Peter sees the devil at work and refuses to accept a false commitment.
Do you renounce the devil and all his works?
Father, we know of so many frauds and schemers. So did your Son. Thank you that his sacrifice has redeemed and renewed such people—even me. In his name, Amen.