The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Our God is a God of surprises and has a sense of humor. Imagine Silas recounting the escape from prison …
“So, we were in prison, singing.”
“And then, there was this earthquake, and the doors flung open and the chains broke!”
“And then, after that, the jailer panicked and was going to kill himself, but Paul stepped in to stop him.”
“Oh, and then, the jailer was so overjoyed—he became a Christian!”
“Oh, and of course how could I forget, then he let us out of prison and invited us over for dinner!”
How could Silas not recount the entire scene without laughing or being overwhelmed with God’s love? It’s a crazy story, but just seeing the list reminds us of God’s many surprises and gifts.
Even if you haven’t had an earthquake save you, what might an inventory of God’s surprises and graces look like in your life?
As a prayer, on a small sheet of paper (or better yet in a text message that you send to a friend), can you list three gifts or graces from God which have surprised you?
Two questions that might help you create your list:
When was the last time I smiled? Or laughed?
Who/what brightens my day today?
—Colten Biro, SJ
Please share the Good Word with your friends!