They were beaten, and this by no means was any mild beating. They were totally battered and bruised. After this incident Paul may have recalled how the Lord told him how much he would have to suffer for his name.
Surely our beloved St. Paul had a life full of drama, fully evidenced by this incident. He is beaten and dragged into prison with his companion Silas. Here they were not just put in prison, they were put into the ‘inner prison’ and chains fastened their feet. I guess there was no escape for them now, or was there?
The story continued at about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Then suddenly there was a great earthquake, one that shook the foundation of the prison. The prison doors were immediately opened and the chains on all the prisoners were unfastened. Wow!!
Sometimes the foundation of our problems needs to be shaken to allow our chains to fall and shatter. Many times we are in major challenges and difficulties. We then pray to God and expect a change for the better, but what we seem to get is greater troubles. Sometimes we are not able to see or believe that out of the “more trouble” will come our redemption or even the salvation of some soul.
That is exactly what happened with Paul and Silas. Though they were beaten and put in prison, they prayed and sang God’s praises. Even at the midnight hour they sang and praised while the other prisoners were up listening to them and receiving God’s words.
Then came the great earthquake and “Bang!” all were freed from their chains. But look at what the now newly freed prisoners did. One would think that here is their grand opportunity to escape being locked up. But for some strange reason, though now free, escaping was not foremost on their minds. All remained in the same place. Could it be that their hearts were converted and they were now hungry to hear more of God’s words, the good news?
The jailer upon realizing that the prison doors were opened in spite of him keeping “major guard”, drew his sword and was a bout to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out to him in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here”. Imagine the relief he must have felt when he realized that they all had not capitalized on the grand chance of escaping. His heart was moved to conversion to the point where he asked them, “Men what must I so to be saved”. What can we learn from him? In great adversity we too can cry out, Lord,
What must I do that my marriage be saved?
What must I do that my children be saved?
What must I do that our nation be saved?
What must I do that our politicians be converted?
What must I do to bring an end to abortion?
What must I do to bring an end to crime and violence?
What must I do the to obtain peace in mind, heart and body?
What must I do to be saved?
This list could continue on and on, and surely our faithful God will provide all the answers, if we trust him and listen to his words. Answers on how each of us in our own little way can make a better world and contribute towards that Kingdom of Love that our Lord has been speaking of and has been so prevalent in our Mass reading over the past few days.
We hear the disciples telling the jailer that in order to be saved, he and his household must believe in the Lord Jesus. That he did. His new faith leads him to Christian action. Acts 16: 33 tells us, “He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and was baptized at once, with his entire household”. He also took them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced that he had believed in God.
Let this be our joy, our rejoicing also in the midst of all the trials and tribulations in our lives. Let us rejoice that we too believe in God and know without a doubt that he will come through for us in our darkest moments.
In difficult circumstances, we too may be perplexed about how to pray and what to do. What we should always remember is that God is in charge of even our darkest moments and that he can use every circumstance to bring glory to his most precious name.
So let us pray in praise and thanksgiving to God in all things. Lord we praise and thank you with our whole hearts. We trust that you are with us at all times and in all circumstances. No matter the circumstance, may your praise be always on our lips and your song constantly in our hearts. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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