Today’s first reading always fascinates me. Paul and Silas are in a terrible situation, not for the first or last time, I might add. But just look at how their vibrant faith allows God to do things in and through them that are nothing short of miraculous. First, there’s the earthquake that brings down the prison walls, although Paul and Silas did not take advantage of the situation. Then there’s the conversion of the jailer, who was an employee of the Romans, and so would have been expected to worship their pagan gods, and he probably had up until this very moment. You might also note the rather miraculous faith of Paul and Silas, who despite being very badly mistreated on account of Jesus, did not abandon their faith but actually grew stronger in it. Authentic faith, lived in freedom, makes possible the salvation of many, many souls.
Just observing the story as it unfolds in our Liturgy of the Word, it’s all so amazing, although Paul and Silas probably just viewed it as part and parcel of the life they had been called to live. They had faith in Jesus and they probably didn’t expect anything less than the miracles they were seeing! The baptism of the Roman guard’s household in particular, was a huge win for the kingdom of God, and Paul and Silas wouldn’t have expected anything less, it seems.
People of great faith experience great miracles. This is not to say that all their troubles go away or that they can wave a wand and prison walls tumble down. Paul and Silas were still imprisoned, and continued to be hounded by the people and the government because of their faith. But the miracles always come through the abiding presence of Christ. These God-moments give us strength when we need it most. It might not be a huge thing, maybe just a kind word from a stranger that comes at the right moment, a phone call from a friend that makes our day, an answer to prayer that is not what we expected but exactly what we needed. The Psalmist today has that same great faith: “Your right hand saves me, O Lord,” he sings. Let us pray that our hearts and eyes and minds would be open to see the miracles happening around us, and that we might live authentic faith for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!