When we read the Acts of the Apostles and see the sufferings that the early missionaries like Paul and his companion Silas had to undergo to preach the gospel, we wonder about our own commitment to preach the gospel. I preach the gospel basically to the saved so that they will more generously live the gospel message in their lives. At times I face boredom and indifference, but never outright hostility. I have never been beaten or thrown into prison. Rather most of the time people thank me for inspiring them and lifting their spirits. They want to hear the good news proclaimed and made meaningful in their lives. My "sufferings" to proclaim the gospel are spending the hours preparing the homily or retreat talk. Maybe it means getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get to an early Sunday Mass at a parish several miles away, something many people do five days a week to get to their jobs.
For all one’s efforts to proclaim the gospel there is the payoff of changed lives. God uses those who proclaim the gospel by the words or deeds as instruments of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Helper, the Paraclete that Jesus sends that accomplishes the transformation in those who listen. The jailer in today’s story immediately proved his conversion by his deeds. No sooner had he turned to Christ than he washed to wounds of the prisoners back and set a meal before them.
May we remain committed to proclaim the gospel in any way we can. May we realize that the Holy Spirit working through us can touch the hearts of those around us.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.