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Journey to Ephesus View Comments
By Lori Erickson

Earthquakes, wars and fires caused Ephesus to be rebuilt six times. Eventually, 250,000 people lived there.

When we think of biblical lands, the nation of Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia, rarely comes to mind. Yet as a major center for the early Church, this ancient land is home to many sites sacred to the Christian faith. Two-thirds of the books in the New Testament were either written in Asia Minor (an older term for the Asian portion of Turkey) or were addressed to communities there. The apostles John, Paul and Peter lived, preached and prayed in Asia Minor, while the seven churches of the Book of Revelation (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea) are located on or near Turkey’s Aegean coast.

Of all these sites, Ephesus is most famous, both as one of Christianity’s great pilgrimage sites as well as the location of some of the best-preserved Greco-Roman ruins in the Mediterranean. The apostle Paul did missionary work in Ephesus, and an early Church tradition says that the apostle John and the Virgin Mary lived there in the last decades of their lives. A well-traveled friend gave me an additional reason to visit there: “Ephesus is a place of sacred mystery,” she had told me. “Once you visit, you’ll know why I long to return there.”

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Lori Erickson is a freelance writer in Iowa City, Iowa. She writes about inner and outer journeys at spiritualtravels.info.

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Matthew: Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the "tax farmers" got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as "publicans," were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with "sinners" (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers. 
<p>Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that "many" tax collectors and "those known as sinners" came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus' answer was, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important. </p><p>No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament.</p> American Catholic Blog The most appealing invitation to embrace the religious life is the witness of our own lives, the spirit in which we react to our divine calling, the completeness of our dedication, the generosity and cheerfulness of our service to God, the love we have for one another, the apostolic zeal with which we witness to Christ’s love for the poorest of the poor.

 
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