Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
May 16, 2023
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we meet people who are deeply dedicated to their life commitments – sometimes for good, sometimes for woe.
In Acts, we meet the unnamed “jailer”. Paul and Silas have been manhandled and thrown into prison. Their jailer receives the instruction to “guard them securely” and he takes it very seriously, binding them in chains in the innermost dungeon.
This man revels in his job, to the degree that it is his only identification in the scriptures. We never know his real name.
His job gives him authority and power he would not have in his ordinary circumstances. Perhaps his job has even become his identity so that without it, he feels like little or nothing. When God decides to “earthquake” Paul and Silas out of their chains, the guard freaks. It’s more than an earthquake to him – his very identity is crumbling in the tumult.
And how about Paul? Is he cool in this reading, or what??? Paul’s power relies not on an assumed identity but on God’s centrality in his life.
When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open,
he drew his sword and was about to kill himself,
thinking that the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted out in a loud voice,
“Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.”
The jailer’s awed response is full-hearted! He does a transformational flip which transfers all his past “job dedication” into his new spiritual conversion. Not only does he allow the disciples to go free, he guides them to his own house, ministers to them, and is baptised. No doubt, his past employers were not too happy with him!
In our Gospel, the disciples, who are deeply dedicated to their vocations, still demonstrate a bit of job-jitters.
Jesus has made it clear that he’s on his way to another dimension and that his disciples will to have to carry on the evangelization business on their own. He promises them all kinds of supernatural help but they can’t imagine functioning without him.
Finally Jesus tells them that, in his physical absence, the Spirit will give them an enhanced power to promulgate the Gospel:
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.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation
Both our readings today remind us that it’s all about what really makes us tick. Do we really understand that it is God’s life with us that gives us “importance”, security and identity? Do we tap into that Infinite Power to give us hope, confidence and transformational resilience in life’s many earthquakes? If so, we like the disciples, will be “unchainable” — because it isn’t about us. It is about the God we love whose Spirit lives in us.
Poetry: Peter and the Angel – Denise Levertov
(This poem is not about Paul and Silas, but rather about Peter when he too was freed from prison by Divine intervention (Acts 12:5-17))
Delivered out of raw continual pain,
smell of darkness, groans of those others
to whom he was chained—
unchained, and led
past the sleepers,
door after door silently opening—
And along a long street's
majestic emptiness under the moon:
one hand on the angel's shoulder, one
feeling the air before him,
eyes open but fixed . . .
And not till he saw the angel had left him,
alone and free to resume
the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of
what he had still to do,
not till then did he recognize
this was no dream. More frightening
than arrest, than being chained to his warders:
he could hear his own footsteps suddenly.
Had the angel's feet
made any sound? He could not recall.
No one had missed him, no one was in pursuit.
He himself must be
the key, now, to the next door,
the next terrors of freedom and joy.
Music: Love is the Only Way – from the film Paul, Apostle of Christ by Jan Kaczmarek
An extra treat to bless your day: this beautiful and powerful rendition of “Unchained Melody’
The Musikschau der Nationen invites army orchestras from almost a dozen countries the U.S. Army website classifies as “Europe’s biggest brass band music festival.” Though not always consecutive, the festival enjoys over 35 years of time-honored traditions. Some participants besides the U.S. included Vietnam, Russia, and Mexico, among others. In 2002, they performed an all-orchestra version of “Unchained Melody”. The performance represented the largest millitary orchestra in the world.
4 thoughts on “Unchained….”
Beautiful! What a lovely way to start my day!❤️🙏
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Thanks, Lucille ❤️🙏
Somehow I had missed this one. Here I am on Memorial Day weekend, and as a Veteran of the Marine Corps I came across this beautiful serenade of Unchained Melody. What a sweet homage to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice one can give, by those who have continued the mission. Thanks Renee!
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Thank you, Rasheeda, and thank you for your service.