The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods.After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Stripped. Beaten. Imprisoned. Shackled. Such was the plight of Paul and Silas in the early Church community at Phillipi. It is a situation we would all want to escape.
What’s interesting is that when the earthquake comes, and escape is handed to them, Paul and Silas wait. They don’t run, despite immediate freedom. They pray and sing hymns, capturing not only the attention of their fellow forgotten ones, but of God, the liberator. They allow God’s work to continue. They save another man, one of their captors, first. And then, they allow him to save them in response. Paul and Silas offer this guard Christ, and he offers them cleansed wounds. They baptize his entire family, and he offers them a meal and rest.
In the hustle-and-bustle of my life, I often take the immediate action to make my life better without considering the other. Think of Jesus on the cross. He could have saved himself. But our freedom was at stake, and he expired there for the benefit of all. How can I find the patience to wait and draw others into God’s grace with me? How can I find freedom in patience and surrender?
Jesus–help me not to seek the easy way out. Help me to remain in your love, and bring others into fullness of life in you.
—Eric Immel, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Wisconsin Province is studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.
“We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.”
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!