JULIUS, A KIND POLICE OFFICER (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

Julius is described in the Acts of the Apostle as “an officer in the Roman regiment called ‘The Emperor’s Regiment’ “ (Acts 27, 1).

The author of ‘Dictionary of the Bible’ John L. McKenzie, S.J. says about Julius that “Julius, the name of the great Roman family the gens Julia, of which Caesar was a member and probably adopted by the centurion” (p. 469).

The authorities at Caesarea committed Paul and other prisoners to the Roman officer (centurion) Julius and his soldiers to take the prisoners to Rome. Luke describes Julius as a kind person. Luke has narrated the whole journey in the first person plural ‘we’.

Luke says, “When it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they handed Paul and some other prisoners over to Julius, an officer in the Roman regiment called ‘The Emperor’s Regiment.’ We went aboard a ship from Adramyttium, which was ready to leave for the seaports of the province of Asia, and we sailed away. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. The next day we arrived at Sidon. Julius was kind to Paul and allowed him to go and see his friends, to be given what we needed”(Acts 27, 1-3).

Julius was responsible for the voyage to continue even in winter months when the sea journey could be dangerous. In fact, after reaching Safe Harbours of Crete, Paul warned the Roman officer Julius and others in the ship saying, “Men, I see that our voyage from here on will be dangerous; there will be great damage to the cargo and to the ship, and loss of life as well” (Acts 27, 10).

But the army officer ignored Paul’s warning and put out to the sea at the advice of the captain and the owner of the ship. They found, as Luke narrates, “The harbour Safe Harbours was not a good one to spend the winter in” (Acts 27, 12). They wanted to reach Phoenix but the ship was carried away by strong wind. The sailors could hardly manage the ship. The voyage, caught in violent storm, was so terrible that, Luke says, “We finally gave up all hope of being saved” (Acts 27, 20).

But once again Paul spoke up giving hope to Julius and all other people in the ship saying, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete; then we would have avoided all this damage and loss. But now I beg you, take heart! Not one of you will lose his life; only the ship will be lost. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship came to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must stand before the Emperor. And God in his goodness to you has spared the lives of all those who are sailing with you.’ So take heart, men! For I trust in God that it will be just as I was told. But we will be driven ashore on some island” (Acts 27, 21-26).

Coupled with vision Paul had experience of sea and shipwreck (see 2 Cor.11, 25). So he could speak with conviction. When the sailors tried to escape Paul as an experienced sea-voyager spoke up again to the army officer (Julius) and soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on board, you have no hope of being saved” (Acts 27, 31).

Then as predicted by Paul, their ship was wrecked. Then the soldiers made plans to kill the prisoners to make sure that they don’t swim ashore and escape.

But the army officer intervened. Luke writes, “the army officer (Julius) wanted to save Paul, so he stopped them from doing this, Instead, he ordered all the men who could swim to jump overboard first and swim ashore; the rest were to follow, holding on to the planks or to some broken pieces of the ship. And this was how we all got safely ashore” (Acts 27, 43-44).

Julius’ respect for Paul helped the voyagers - prisoners, soldiers and the sailors - from perishing in the sea. Like other army officers or centurions of Paul’s acquaintance, Julius treated Paul with respect and reached him to Rome amidst much hardship.

Luke says, “When we arrived in Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself with a soldier guarding him” (Acts 28, 16).

Julius did a remarkable job in reaching Paul from Caesarea to Rome. (contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)


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