Scripture: 1st Reading: Acts16,22-34; Resp. Psalm: Ps138,1-3,7-8; Gosp. Accl.: Jn16,7,13; Gospel: Jn16,5-11
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The oppression and injustice meted on His holy ones will not last. God in His power shall rise to the defence of His holy people. This is because His hands are not too short to save; His might is supreme; His authority is unquestionable.
The people of Philippi, the magistrates who judged them and the jailers who were put in charge of Paul and Silas thought the prison wall was strong enough to silence the truth of Christ. They all thought that putting these great witnesses in prison, after having beaten them with rods, would deter the works of the gospel. How wrong they were. The church of God still marched on, even right there in the prison!
Paul and Silas were put in the inner prison. Their feet were fastened in the stocks. Instead of lamenting their situation and blaspheming against the Holy name of God, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. The prisoners were listening to them. In the midst of this, there was an earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison.
This earthquake was the manifestation of divine power and presence. It was a curative, salvific, therapeutic earthquake, that was not to destroy or maim but demonstrate the presence of the mighty powers of God. That earthquake opened the prison doors and unfastened everyone's chains. That divine manifestation started a conversion right there in the prison.
The jailer who was responsible for their captivity became a prisoner of the Spirit of Jesus. When he saw what happened, he and his household became believers. Indeed the lives of Paul and Silas manifested the presence of the Holy Spirit. They were possesses of the Spirit of the Living and true God. Their lives demonstrated their commitment to Jesus and his gospel.
Our Lord had told His disciples in His long farewell discourse that it was to their advantage if He went away because if He did not, the Counsellor would not come to them. But He told them that if he went away from them, the Counsellor would come to them to convince the works of sin of righteousness and of judgement.
We must not forget that in whatever circumstance, God will never abandon Hus Church. We must never forget that evil and the men of darkness will never triumph over the church of Christ. Whenever we are persecuted, let us remember His words and promise: "lo, I will be with you, even to the end of the world." The church belongs to Him; we are His people, the sheep of His flock. He will never abandon us.
Let us pray: "Grant, almighty and merciful God, that we may in truth receive a share in the Resurrection of Christ your Son." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Rev. Fr. Anthony Igbekele