As we move through the Easter season, our readings from The Acts of the Apostles remind us more and more of the power of the Holy Spirit. In our reading today, Paul and Silas are thrown into prison, but there is such an earthquake that the doors of the jail fly open and the chains that held Paul and Silas are broken. But Paul and Silas do not escape!
Are they crazy? No, but the Spirit must have prompted them to stay where they were, and then we find out why. Staying in the jail even though they could have escaped prevented the jailer from killing himself, and brought the jailer and his family to Christ. Not doing the obvious, not seeking their immediate self-interest, wound up helping someone else.
The Spirit often prompts us and helps us to go beyond ourselves to follow Jesus’ command to love. And that is why Jesus can say at the Last Supper, in our Gospel reading from John: “…now I am going to the one who sent me… But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.” We need the Spirit to continue to be disciples.
If we can listen to the Spirit within us, we need not fall into despair, but continue to share the love that has been given to us in Jesus Christ. It is the love that the Spirit enabled Paul and Silas to have for their jailer. It is a love that worldly wisdom does not understand, but which the world so sorely needs. May we live and love in the Spirit.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.