Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter, May 19
Truly Embracing the Gift of Faith, Opening Our Hearts to Living in a Holy and Loving Relationship with God, Will Lead Us One Day to Heaven, Which God Has Prepared for All Who Depart This Life in His Friendship.
“…what must I do to be saved?”
– a question the jailer asked Paul and Silas in today’s First Reading, a question which resulted from both fear and a deep humility in recognizing the Hand of God at work in the circumstances in which the jailer found himself.
“…what must I do to be saved?” – a question which God’s faithful have been asking since the time of Christ.
From the Acts of the Apostles, we read today that Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned. What the Scriptures do not tell us in today’s Reading is “why”. Paul had exorcised a demonic presence from a slave girl, who was used by her owners to practice fortune telling, so that they might derive profit from her oracles.
As a result, and in their anger, the owners falsified charges against Paul and Silas, so that they would end up being scourged and placed in the local jail.
The Scriptures do tell us, however, that God created good from this evil, for the jailer and his entire household were converted and baptized!
After the horrific scourging they received, and after the earthquake had set them free, why was it that Paul and Silas did not flee, and that they even convinced the other inmates to remain with them in their cells? What were Paul and Silas thinking? What was in their hearts?
Someone of lesser faith would have run away and escaped. And no one would have faulted Paul and Silas for doing just that! After all, they had important work to do for God in other towns, in other villages!
Yet, it was their firm faith in Christ, in season and out of season, the kind of faith that believes that a true disciple of Jesus Christ is living safely in the providential hands of God, that the obstacles and misfortunes of life are not so much something that God saves us from, as it is that He asks us to accept and grow through them – which I am sure many if not all of us have experienced at one time or another in our lives.
There is an old and obscure adage that comes to mind, “Stay with the darkness, the emptiness, the confusion, and let it work out its purification and maturation in us.”
In other words, through the faith which filled the hearts of Paul and Silas, they saw in the darkness and confusion which surrounded them an opportunity of changing their misfortune into joyful preaching and their suffering into an occasion of bearing fruit within the hearts of those around them.
The jailer responds, “…what must I do to be saved?” And, as Scripture tells us, “he and all his family”, together with his whole “household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.”
God invites each of us to respond to the gift of faith which He has freely offered to both you and me. It is the kind of gift which is especially gift wrapped and hand delivered at the door of our minds and hearts. It is up to us, however, to choose to unwrap this most precious gift and embrace all that is being given to us.
Almost two thousand years ago, when our Lord traveled from town to town, the crowds would follow Him in great numbers, and the Scriptures tell us that His Heart would be moved “with pity for them”, for they were like “sheep without a shepherd”, hungering for spiritual nourishment, and He would feed them with words of love – words which gave hope, and He would heal their sick.
Today, we are no different, for there are many people of many diverse cultures throughout the world who hunger and thirst for a nourishment which only God can give. And since the days of our first parents, human suffering has been the one constant that has accompanied mankind throughout human history. And I am sure that many, if not all of us, are no strangers to the experience of suffering.
In the midst of our own afflictions and anguish, in the midst of our own personal journey through this vale of tears which each of us must travel, our Lord invites both you and me to open our hearts to the gift of faith which He freely offers us – a gift which strengthens, a gift which moves us into a deeper understanding of and a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Faith is a gift which gives us an enduring and lasting hope in something infinitely grander than anything this world has to offer.
This hope, which fills us with a joyful anticipation of the life to come, is given to us by the Spirit Himself. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us and guides us on our journey of faith. It is the Spirit Himself who strengthens us. It is the Spirit Himself who prompts us to open our hearts to seek God’s Mercy and eternal salvation.
In today’s Gospel, our Lord is teaching His disciples about the Holy Spirit. What are not included in today’s Reading are Jesus’ words from a later verse in the same chapter of John’s Gospel –
“But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.”
What stands out in the verses we read today, however, is the role of the Advocate in our own salvation. For today’s verses illustrate the very character of the Paraclete Himself, in that He gives witness to those who are in sin who do not believe in Jesus, for it is through Jesus Christ that you and I are saved.
Even our psalmist today speaks of God’s Mercy and salvation with the words, “When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me. Your right hand saves me. The LORD will complete what he has done for me; your kindness, O LORD, endures forever.”
In the world in which we live today, it is the words of the jailer which become our own words, “…what must I do to be saved?” And it is through their Baptism that they were able to experience the true joy of knowing and believing in God’s Love! It is through them that we see the words of today’s Responsorial psalm come alive, “…your kindness, O LORD, endures forever.”
“…what must I do to be saved?”
The answer lies in how we, ourselves, respond to the gift of faith which is offered to us. Truly embracing this most precious gift, opening our hearts to truly living in a holy and loving relationship with our God, and responding to all that our Lord is asking of us – will lead us one day to that portal which opens to the Special Home which God has prepared for all those who depart this life in His friendship –
– an eternity in which perpetual salvation, together with a profound love, peace and joy, becomes our home forever – with the God who loves each of us beyond all manner of human understanding, with the God who truly is our Most Intimate and Loving Father and Brother.
And together, we shall forever rejoice at having embraced and lived this most wondrous gift of faith! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Then [the jailer] brought [Paul and Silas] out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.’” (Acts 16:30-31)
- “So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house…then he and all his family were baptized at once. (Acts 16:32, 33b)
- “Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked.” (Psalm 84:11)
- “You stretch out your hand; your right hand saves me. The LORD is with me to the end. LORD, your mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 138:7b-8b)
- “He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.” (Acts 16:34)
- “Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:35-36)
- “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen…without faith, it is impossible to please God, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:1, 6)
- “For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:29-27)
- “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.” (John 16:13)
- “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.” (Psalm 118:24)
Prayer for the Day
“Ah, Lord God, my Holy Lover,
when You come into my heart,
all that is within me will rejoice.
“You are my glory and the exultation of my heart.
You are my hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation.
But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue imperfect,
I must be strengthened and comforted by You.
“Visit me often, therefore, and teach me Your holy discipline.Thomas A’ Kempis (The Imitation of Christ)
Free me from evil passions and cleanse my heart
of all disorderly affection so that, healed and purified within,
I may be fit to love, strong to suffer, and firm to persevere.”