28 May 2019
The crowd joined in and showed their hostility to Paul and Silas, so the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be flogged. They were given many lashes and then thrown into prison, and the gaoler was told to keep a close watch on them. So, following his instructions, he threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Late that night Paul and Silas were praying and singing God’s praises, while the other prisoners listened. Suddenly there was an earthquake that shook the prison to its foundations. All the doors flew open and the chains fell from all the prisoners.
When the gaoler woke and saw the doors wide open he drew his sword and was about to commit suicide, presuming that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted at the top of his voice, ‘Don’t do yourself any harm; we are all here.’ The gaoler called for lights, then rushed in, threw himself trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas, and escorted them out, saying, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
They told him, ‘Become a believer in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, and your household too.’ Then they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all his family. Late as it was, he took them to wash their wounds, and was baptised then and there with all his household. Afterwards he took them home and gave them a meal, and the whole family celebrated their conversion to belief in God.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Now I am going to the one who sent me.
Not one of you has asked, “Where are you going?”
Yet you are sad at heart because I have told you this.
Still, I must tell you the truth:
it is for your own good that I am going
because unless I go,
the Advocate will not come to you;
but if I do go,
I will send him to you.
And when he comes,
he will show the world how wrong it was,
and about who was in the right,
and about judgement:
about sin: proved by their refusal to believe in me;
about who was in the right: proved by my going to the Father and your seeing me no more;
about judgement: proved by the prince of this world being already condemned.’
When the Advocate, the Holy Spirit comes, he will show the world how wrong it was.
Recently, at my uncle’s wake, I met an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in ages. We barely know each other, safe for the fact that she is my aunt’s husband’s niece and she was once the mistress of a married man. That’s all I knew of her. She is 4 years younger than me, was a very pretty girl, always well-dressed and immaculately turned out the few times I met her. My perception of her was of this privileged princess, the only child in the family, doted on by her parents and uncle. She would have been very comfortable materially when her parents and uncle eventually passed on. Only a pity that she chose to be someone’s mistress.
Fast forward to present day and she looked nothing like I remembered of her. I was actually really shocked at how she looked. I commented to my cousin that ‘she didn’t age well.’ She is completely devoid of any make up, dressed simply in a white blouse and beige pants, hair tied up in a simple pony tail. My brother asked me, “Did you hear her story?” I was completely floored, humbled and ashamed of myself. Rita (not her real name), converted to Catholicism as recently as a year (or two) back. Surprising, coming from a family of very staunch Buddhists. In fact, her own mother also converted. She felt a calling to give of her life to our Lord. She sold all her possessions and moved into a one-room HDB flat. At present she is discerning to be a nun.
And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment. Indeed I was taught a lesson again never to judge people. Human judgement can be so off target. Ultimately, the ways of our Lord surpass our own understanding and predictions. He is able to use us and our situations to bring things to a happy outcome. Even out of the most threatening situations, good can emerge – as in today’s first reading. Despite being stripped of their clothing, beaten and jailed, Paul and Barnabas, by their courage and faith, were able to win new converts in the Philippi jail.
We need to ask God to show us His perspective. It is the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who gives us God’s perspective — to see as God sees, to know as God knows, to be wise as God is wise. That is why we need the Holy Spirit to keep filling the hearts of the faithful.
Today, I offer up my prayers for my sister Rita. That God of wisdom and of counsel, sees in her heart a desire to please Him, to grant her the will and desire to give herself entirely to God’s holy will, in the choice of her state in life and to embrace it lovingly and humbly.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, today we offer our prayers for those discerning their vocations, for our priests, religious, lay consecrated and those being called by You to lay down their lives for others. We pray for the Holy Spirit to teach us to see with God’s eyes, to be wise as God is wise and to never judge others, as He is the ultimate judge and story writer of each of our lives.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for using each seemingly unfortunately circumstance in our lives and bringing these things to a happy outcome.