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 (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
The story of the jailer and his family in our first reading is one of dramatic conversion. Encountering stories of conversion, from simple to dramatic, are perhaps cause to consider our own conversion experiences. Do you recall significant sacramental moments where your Baptism and Confirmation unfolded in real time, changing your perspective of life, and perhaps the course of your journey?
Those touchstone moments are to be remembered and renewed often in prayer, all the more fervently in our Easter celebration. It is these foundational experiences, rare as they are, that we draw strength from in our journey.
And while many Christians recall one such day they gave their life over to the Lord, perhaps drawing on the dramatic example of the jailer and his family in today’s reading, many more know Christian conversion as these few touchstone sacramental moments of great weight, followed by a simple, often unconscious renewal to once again “take up my cross” and recommit to this vocation each day.
It is in this way that our daily prayer and regular celebration of the Sacraments take their proper place. Regular personal and communal prayer yield a virtuous cycle where the Lord may more readily enter and act upon our will, drawing us more fully to join Him in discipleship.
This Easter, perhaps account for the touchstones of conversion in your life, where the Resurrected Christ was made known to you in special ways. We draw upon these to fuel our daily conversions, giving our life over to the Lord inch by inch, step by step.
Lord, at times your presence in our life feels distant. We long to rest in your protection and abundant goodness. This wasteland of emptiness can be daunting and discouraging. More than ever we must call upon your Divine help even if we do not clearly perceive your Spirit.
We will trust that your grace will be sufficient for us and will sustain our patience. Fortify our faith so we can hold to this truth that consolation will return as we strive diligently against spiritual loneliness.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team