We focus on the releasing of Paul and Silas from a prison that was well guarded. They are released even from their chains as an earthquake breaks open all the doors and gates. They remain in the prison and prevent the guard from killing himself. He thought they all had fled. Prayer and the singing of hymns were the spiritual support they had for one another. Then comes the earthquake and new possibilities open for them. The jailer converts through the action of the Spirit and asks them to come to his home where he cleanses their wounds and offers them hospitality in thanksgiving for his baptism and for the fact they saved him from suicide. The active age of the Holy Spirit continues for the early Christian communities that are forming. The apostles and disciples continue to be bold in their witnessing to Jesus and preaching his name. The church is growing rapidly especially among the Gentiles. The reading for today is quite astounding and gives us the confidence and hope that we know is ours through the Holy Spirit. Like the jailer we have passed from death in baptism to life in the Resurrected Lord.
Our psalm fits the earthquake and miracle perfectly: “Your right hand has saved me, O Lord…Your kindness endures forever, O Lord, forsake not the work of your hands.” (Psalm 138:7-8). Throughout this psalm three key words are prayed: God is called Yahweh or Lord seven times, thanksgiving (todah) is the main theme of the psalm, and covenantal love and fidelity from the Lord toward Israel is emphasized (hesed).
Konrad Schaefer, a Benedictine scholar has this splendid insight: “All of life is the work of God’s hands; may he who began it sustain it forever (v.8). Because God fulfills his purpose, because the divine hesed (loving-kindness) is unending , to abandon the work of his hands would be a denial of the self. The recognition of ‘your hesed, O Lord endures forever’ is all the confidence a person needs.”
Our Gospel selection continues the longest discourse of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus repeats what he has already said, namely, that the Holy Spirit will come only if Jesus departs. The Paraclete will always be within and at the side of the apostles and their successors (us). Father MacRae, S.J. tells us: “In order to carry out their mission, they must be aided by the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, and Jesus has promised to send the Paraclete only when he himself departs.” It is the Spirit that will prove sin is wrong, that justice is seen in the glorification of Jesus, and that the Prince of Darkness, the Evil One, is condemned. We, therefore, pray, “ Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful. Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia!
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby