Honey and Vinegar

There is an old proverb that states “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” In other words, you are more likely to get what you want by being polite rather than rude. Over the years, this proverb has proved itself to be true. However, we often forget about it. Customer service jobs are some of the most grueling because they require dealing with people under stress. People don’t often handle difficult problems well and along with the stress these problems create comes fear. In that fear, our age old enemy thrives. He is ready to feed us lies and make us regard others as opponents rather than allies.

Jesus promised His disciples before He left this world that He would send the Advocate, meaning the Holy Spirit, who comes to conquer because “the ruler of this world has been condemned.” John 16:11. We live in a fallen world governed by sin. The ongoing battle is to reject the ruler of the world and return to the teachings of Jesus, acting through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

The first reading today is the story of Paul and Silas remaining in their cell in jail even after an earthquake opens the gates of the jail, allowing them to escape. The timing of this earthquake would have been sufficient to make the point that the Lord is always in charge and will protect His followers. It would have been easy to say that He sent the earthquake to free His people who were imprisoned unjustly. Instead, the Lord makes the story more powerful and thus saves more people through the actions of Paul and Silas. By remaining in their cell, they show consideration for the jailer. They acted according to the Spirit and not in the way of the world. Because of this action, the jailer’s eyes were opened and he was baptized.

“They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. He brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.” Acts 16:33-34

In a world filled with fear and stress, it is easy to forget or lose sight of the relationship we are called to have with other people, especially when they confront us with hostility. This is why Jesus sent us the Advocate, so we can persevere against this aggression and evangelize through simple acts of kindness.

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One thought on “Honey and Vinegar”

  1. What a fresh perspective on this familiar passage from the Acts of the Apostles! We remember it better because Paul and Silas did not try to escape, even though they were clearly offered the chance through an act of God. If all Christians could show their faith using good customer service techniques, there would no doubt be more followers of Jesus Christ added to the flock each day. We might pray to our blessed Advocate to help us with this approach.


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