How saddened the disciples were that Jesus would not be with them much longer in the way they had imagined He would be. While their encounter with the Living Word-made-Flesh had turned their lives completely upside down, journeying with Him during the years of His public ministry, they still did not understand the full picture. In the Gospel today, Jesus sees the grief that fills their hearts in this moment, knowing still the grief yet to come at His Crucifixion, but also knowing the complete joy of His Resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
It is the deep reception of the Holy Spirit in their inmost beings that set the Apostles on fire after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, they can be faithful to their mission of baptizing the world in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, no matter where they go or what they endure.
In the first reading, we see Paul and Silas stripped, beaten severely and thrown into jail. Yet even there the kingdom of God reigns. Though they are prisoners in every outward sense—put in the “innermost cell” with their feet secured to a stake—they are set free in their innermost selves by Christ and able to be instruments of God’s grace, singing His praises and praying in the dark of night.
Imagine being one of the prisoners nearby, overhearing their love for God spilling forth. Would you scoff at them? Might your own heart be stirred to whisper a small prayer of thanksgiving?
Either way, you’d definitely be most attentive the moment you felt the earthquake shake the very foundations of the jail! What a dramatic revelation of God’s glory! Each prisoner being set free from bondage—chains broken, doors blown open, light piercing their own hearts. This freedom is not just physical, but spiritual—freedom from sin. This outward manifestation of God’s power seems small compared to the inner transformation of the jailer, much like the instance where Jesus healed the paralytic, saying first “Your sins are forgiven,” and then performing a physical miracle to account for our poor human blindness (Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17-26).
For the jailer and his family to have received the Holy Spirit so as to know the truth of Jesus Christ is a true miracle and a cause for great rejoicing indeed!
And what about us? How is it that we live in the light and joy of this truth, no matter how dark our present situation may seem? And do we allow the Holy Spirit to inspire us so as to be ministers of joy and truth to others in our lives who may themselves feel imprisoned by doubts, sadness or trouble?
By virtue of the Sacraments and living in a state of grace, we have the Holy Spirit! We too are set free! Jesus promised His disciples, as He promises us, that He will complete the good work He has begun in us. And what a mighty work He has done! No matter if we were born into the Faith or converted later (or find ourselves on the path of conversion!), it is a gift that by His Light we know Light.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands. ~Ps. 138:7-8
What a grace it is to be transformed in the waters of baptism, confirmed in the Faith, brought freedom from our sins in reconciliation, and to receive JESUS Himself in the Holy Eucharist! The Lord has a plan for our lives. We must trust Him every step of the way and bear the crosses He allows us to carry for our sanctification, for even in the darkest night He is the Light we need.
We still have some days of Easter left, before arriving to the great Feast of Pentecost. Prepare your hearts and souls to grow closer to the Holy Spirit. Receive a new outpouring of the Spirit by praying a Pentecost Novena, learning the Veni, Creator Spiritus prayer (which St. JPII prayed every day!) and shedding any chains of bondage to sin in the confessional.
God awaits to do marvelous things in your soul. Let Him in ever more! And let us cry as one with the whole Church, Come, Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy well-beloved Spouse!