May 19: Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 6:00 AM PDT

A metal chain stretches across the image, with the middle link rusted and broken

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I am struck by today’s story in the Acts of the Apostles. We’re presented with a miraculous occurrence: Paul and Silas, having been beaten and jailed, experience an earthquake that opens the doors of their jail and frees them from their chains. However, I was more captivated by the story of the transformation of their jailer, who in the course of an evening (and a few short verses), goes from someone who is diligently following orders to imprison them, into one who welcomes these prisoners into his home, bathing their wounds and sharing at table with them and his entire household.

There are stories elsewhere in the Book of Acts that recount providential escapes from imprisonment for the apostles – this one however, stands out in the startling transformation of the jailer. While the imprisoned could have easily walked out of the jail after the earthquake and unshackling, (as they did in other stories like this), or could have overpowered the jailer and made their escape, the Word today invites us to imagine the total transformation of relationship that is possible through the power of God – where enemies become friends, and all share at table together in joy.

How is it possible that this jailer, the instrument of Paul and Silas’s oppression, becomes their host? I trace his story – beginning with simply following orders, to asleep, then gripped by fear, moved with curiosity, listening attentively, tending wounds, embracing faith, and sharing with joy at table together. I am struck by curiosity and listening being the doorway from his fear into fellowship. His is a story of conversion of heart and transformation of relationship. Perhaps it is really a story of the jailer being set free. Could his path be our path too?

I see the similarities between the jailer’s story and our current global context: our daily lives are being shaken up by cataclysmic events; I wonder what transformation is possible if we start to engage with curiosity in the midst of our fear. If we started to listen attentively. What old scripts and ways of operating might we abandon? Whose wounds might we be called to tend? How will our households transform? Who might we want to embrace in friendship and fellowship? Where will we put our faith? What will bring us joy?

Let us ask the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to give us the grace of curiosity and attentive listening. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to bring transformation to our lives, our world, and our relationships. Let us ask to be set free. 

 

JoAnn M. Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Resident Minister in Campion Hall