Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reflection for the 5th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Joy

In today's Gospel, Jesus desires that His joy may be in His disciples and that their joy may be complete. His longing extends to us, too. Jesus wants us to be joyful, filled with joy, a joy that He provides, a joy that is complete.

Many of us, however, often feel anything but joyful. We are harried, depressed, anxious, and stressed. Joy seems to play little, if any, part in our lives.

How, then, do we become the joyful people that Jesus wants us to be? First, let's reflect on the nature of joy. It is not merely happiness or a good feeling or even excitement although it can include all of these. The Greek word for joy is chara, and it comes from a root that means “to extend favor, lean towards, be favorably disposed.” The noun derived from that root, then, literally means a recognition or awareness of favor.

So joy, in its ultimate meaning, is a recognition and response to God's favor or grace. It perceives God's great gifts, it identifies the Giver, and it responds with wonder, gratitude, and delight. Joy sees and responds to the amazing things God has done for us.

And when we stop to consider what God has done for us, how He has forgiven us and saved us and is preparing us for Heaven, how can we not be joyful? We still feel the cares and stresses of daily life, but deep down, we experience joy, and if we let it bubble up to the surface, it will overflow. That's what Jesus wants for us...that kind of joy.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Friday – A Letter

The first conflict of opinion came early in the history of the Church. Christians debated, sometimes vigorously, whether or not all who accepted faith in Christ would also have to accept the entire Jewish tradition and catalog of ritual practices including circumcision.

The apostles and elders met in council at Jerusalem to make a decision. Allowing themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, they discussed how God had poured out the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles and worked wonders for them. He had shown no distinction. Christianity was for everyone. Peter had received a vision, too, that suggested that times were changing and old practices need not apply to newcomers.

Finally, led by Peter and James, and ultimately by the Holy Spirit, the council decided that Gentile Christians were not required to follow Jewish customs. They were to avoid some non-negotiables like meat that had been sacrificed to idols, blood, meat from strangled animals, and unlawful marriage. Otherwise, they were free to believe in peace, relying on God's grace for their salvation and unhindered by rules that even most Jews failed to keep.

The Gentiles were delighted by the letter the council sent to them. They readily agreed to its requirements, happy to be accepted for who they were, happy to be saved, and happy to be part of a Church that listened to God and acted accordingly.

Saturday – Prevented by the Holy Spirit

As Paul traveled through the Mediterranean world on his missionary journeys, he often encountered road blocks. There were times when he simply couldn't go where he thought he wanted to go. But he recognized the reason for this: the Holy Spirit was preventing him.

We don't know exactly how the Spirit prevented Paul for traveling to certain places. Sometimes the Spirit seems to have spoken directly to the apostle's heart. But other times He used events and people and circumstances to guide Paul's journey. Illness may have slowed Paul down. Hostilities from others may have limited his movements. Weather may have turned him in another direction. In any case, Paul recognized the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and he followed Him, leaving behind his own plans and going wherever the Spirit sent him.

How is the Holy Spirit guiding your life? Have you ever felt like you were prevented from doing something you really wanted to do? Perhaps later on you realized that what you wanted really wasn't the best thing for you. Perhaps you were even glad that you were pushed in another direction.

The Holy Spirit guides each of us in many different ways. It's up to us to discern His will and follow His lead. He always knows what's best for us even when we think we don't agree.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Reflection for the 5th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – Cast All Your Worries

In today's first reading, St. Peter invites us to “Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares for you.”

This is probably one of the most important things we can ever do, but do we actually accept God's invitation? Do we place our worries in His hands and leave them there?

Let's look more closely at what this means. The Greek verb for “cast” is epiriptō. It literally means to throw something upon someone, to get rid of something, to give it up totally. We are to give up our worries to God, to throw them off and let Him handle them.

And what are these worries? Again the Greek word gives us a clue to the depths of meaning here. The word is merimna, and it is derived from a verb that means “to divide.” Worries (cares, anxieties), then, are things that divide us, things that break us into pieces and draw us in different directions, things that keep us from being whole and at peace.

God doesn't want us to live divided but rather to be complete and completely focused on Him. Therefore, we need to get rid of anything that divides our minds and disrupts our peace. We can't do this on our own, so we turn to God and pass off our worries to Him.

Why? Because He cares for us. The Greek verb here is melō, and it indicates a special concern and attention. God cares about us in every aspect of our lives from the greatest problem to the smallest detail. We matter to Him. He loves us.

Let us, then, cast our worries upon the God Who longs to make us whole and tranquil, safe in His arms.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on

Tuesday – Speaking of God

How often do you speak about God? Does He enter into your daily conversations? Do you tell others of the wonderful things He has done for you? Do you proclaim His mighty works? Do you talk about the splendor of His law? Do you declare His truth, goodness, and beauty?

Many of us find it difficult to do this. Our culture discourages such talk. We are told not to “impose” our beliefs upon others but rather to keep them quietly to ourselves in the privacy of our homes.

God, however, tells us to do the opposite. In today's psalm, for instance, the psalmist prays that all of God's creatures (including and especially those created in His image and likeness) talk about the glory of His kingdom and speak of His power. Jesus, too, once said that we must proclaim His words from the housetops.

This task takes courage. Speaking about God will often decrease our popularity. We may even angrily be told to shut up. But those who truly love God cannot be quiet. We must declare His Gospel to the ends of the earth. It's part of our mission, and we can be well assured that He will give us all the strength, wisdom, and fortitude we need fulfill it. All we need to do is ask and then open our mouths and allow His words to flow through us to everyone we meet.

Wednesday – Remain in Me

Jesus is the vine; we are the branches. A branch that breaks off from the vine dies, for it is cut off from its source of nourishment and life.

This is why Jesus so strongly stresses that we must remain in Him. He is our only source of true life, of eternal life. Through Him, grace flows into our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our bodies. From Him we receive the nourishment we need to survive. He gives us what we need to know Him intimately and to do His work in the world. “Remain in Me,” He insists, “because without Me you can do nothing.”

This sounds wonderful, but we might wonder how we are to remain in Jesus. What exactly must we do to stay connected with Him?

1. Pray. Prayer is the key to intimacy with God. In prayer, we both speak and listen to Him, trusting that He always hears and always answers.

2. Repent of sin. Sin is what cuts us off from God because when we sin, we deliberately choose to do what He has told us not to do. We say no to Him. Repentance, along with confession and satisfaction, turns that no back into a yes and reestablishes our intimacy with God.

3. Receive the Eucharist frequently and devoutly. Jesus is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist, and He gives Himself to us in a most profound and personal way.

4. Read and reflect on Sacred Scripture. The Bible is God's own Word and His love letter to us. Through it, He speaks lovingly to our hearts.

5. Be mindful of God's presence at all times. The saints call this recollection. God thinks about us at every moment, holding us in His hands and holding us in existence. Simply remember Him even and especially in the midst of the chaos and busyness of life.

“Remain in Me,” Jesus pleads, “as I remain in you.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reflections for the 4th Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – My Faithfulness

“My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him...” Thus God assures King David in today's psalm.

God's faithfulness and mercy shall be with us, too. The Hebrew word for “faithfulness” here is emunah, and it carries overtones of security, firmness, steadfastness, stability, and trust. God will never let us down or let us go, and He will never stop loving us. He is the rock we can turn to for help and support anytime, anywhere. Even when we are faithless and sinful, He waits for us and gives us the graces we need to believe and repent.

The Hebrew word for “mercy” is also rich in meaning. It is hesed, and it refers to covenant loyalty. When God makes a covenant, He keeps it, forever without ceasing. Further, because covenants create family bonds, God remains our Father through thick and thin. He will never abandon us, never kick us out, never tell us that we are no longer His kids. He may discipline us sometimes (as good fathers do), and if we, like spoiled kids, run away and think that we can make it on our own, He will take the tough love approach and let us learn our lessons the hard way. But He never, ever stops loving us.

So let us listen again to God's words as He speaks to our hearts like He spoke to David's: My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with you.

Friday – Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Are you in a difficult situation and can't see a way out? Jesus has a message for you: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Are you exhausted or sick or scared or all of the above? Jesus has a message for you: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Are you wondering how you will ever find the strength to keep going? Jesus has a message for you: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Are you afraid that your faith, hope, and love are too weak and fragile to amount to anything? Jesus has a message for you: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Are you concerned that you'll never make it home to Heaven? Jesus has a message for you: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

“You have faith in God;” He continues, “have faith also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be.” What better reassurance could Jesus give us than this?

Saturday – Jews and Gentiles

Paul and Barnabas were fed up. Many Jews of Antioch of Pisidia refused to listen to the saving message of Jesus Christ. Instead, they showered the two messengers with jealous scorn and abuse.

So Paul and Barnabas met the stubborn Jews head on. Since they rejected the Gospel and chose to condemn themselves and cut themselves off from eternal life, the Christians would simply find a new audience. They would go to the Gentiles.

This pronouncement probably made the Jews even angrier. In their eyes, the Gentiles were nothing, lower than scum, cut off from God, not worthy of notice.

Paul and Barnabas didn't agree. They knew that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was for the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike, and since the Jews didn't want it, the time had come to move on.

The Gentiles were thrilled to hear the good news. Filled with delight, they embraced salvation and the eternal life now offered to them with such great love. Finally their time had come. Finally they, too, could know the God so long hidden from them. Finally they, too, had a chance at Heaven.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reflections for the 4th Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – One Gate

Jesus couldn't have been any more definitive: “I am the gate.” There is only one way for our sins to be forgiven. There is only one way to be saved. There is only one way to get to Heaven.

Jesus is the way. He is the gate. We must go through Him, or we won't go at all.

Is that shocking? In this world where pluralism and relativism are valued, Jesus' exclusive claim may seem out of fashion or even offensive. But it is still true.

There is only one gate, only one way to enter into salvation, and that is Jesus.

Does this mean that people who have never met Jesus during their lives will have no chance to make it to Heaven? No. Jesus has His ways. We don't know exactly what happens in those last few moments of life, in the brief span between this world and the next. Perhaps even in that tiny window of time, the dying will meet, recognize, and embrace their Lord. Or perhaps they already knew Him in some form or another and didn't even realize it.

That being said, however, there is still only one gate. If anyone is saved, if anyone will spend eternity in Heaven, it is because they entered through Jesus Christ.

Tuesday – City of God

In today's psalm, the Psalmist rejoices that he is in Zion (Jerusalem), the city of God. Zion is God's dwelling on earth, the Psalmist implies, and those born within her and living within her should sing and dance for joy because they make their home in the presence of God.

We Catholics have our own city of God: the Catholic Church. God dwells in a special way in every single Catholic Church, for Jesus Christ is really present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the tabernacle. We, too, are invited to sing and dance for joy in God's presence and to make our spiritual home in the Church. We have, after all, been born again in Baptism, the sacrament in which God became our Father and the Church our Mother.

Being Catholic is a cause for celebration. We are blessed to possess the fullness of the Christian faith. Every single sacrament and grace that God has provided for our salvation is accessible through the Catholic Church in marvelous, miraculous, and amazing ways. And best yet, we have Jesus Christ Himself in the Eucharist, and we can receive Him personally, intimately, at every Mass.

Indeed, as the Psalmist exclaims, “Glorious things are said of you, O city of God!”

Wednesday – Not to Condemn

Some people may be surprised by Jesus' words in today's Gospel: “And if anyone hears My words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.”

Believe it or not, Jesus is not in the business of sending people to hell. He isn't standing around with a checklist, ticking off boxes in columns that say “right” and “wrong” at the top. Rather, Jesus is our Savior. He joins His Father in willing that everyone be saved and end up in Heaven.

Unfortunately, though, hell is real, and tragically, some people probably do go there. But if Jesus doesn't condemn them, then who does? Really, they condemn themselves. They make a free choice to follow the wrong path. They turn their backs on God. They decide for their own will rather than His. They refuse to obey His laws. They say a firm no to His love. They won't allow Him into their hearts. They stubbornly face the other way. If they choose this course all the way to the end of their lives, then they have chosen their own destiny. They didn't want God in life, and they continue to reject Him in eternity.

And God lets them go. He lets them have their way. Ever the Divine Gentlemen, He will not force Himself upon them but leaves them free to choose, and if they choose life and death without Him, then He respects that choice, even though it breaks His heart.

No, Jesus has not come to condemn anyone. He longs to save the whole world, but He will not do so without the cooperation of each and every individual human being.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reflections for the 3rd Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – The Ethiopian

The Ethiopian didn't understand what he was reading, but he wanted to. He longed to comprehend what the prophet Isaiah was saying about this mysterious Man Who so willingly gave up His life. But he didn't know where to find any answers.

Then, suddenly, a man appeared out of nowhere and ran up to the Ethiopian. “Do you understand what you are reading?” the man asked. “How can I,” the Ethiopian replied, “unless someone instructs me?” He had a feeling that this man was the one who could do just that.

And the man, the deacon Philip, did. He opened his mouth and proclaimed the Gospel, explaining in detail how the passage in Isaiah was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.

The Ethiopian recognized truth when he heard it. His heart was touched, and his mind opened. He believed in the Gospel, accepted Christ, and longed for the baptism that would bring sanctifying grace into his soul. Spying some water, he exclaimed, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” Absolutely nothing as far as Philip was concerned. He baptized the Ethiopian on the spot. But when the Ethiopian turned around, Philip was gone, swept away by the Spirit.

The Ethiopian didn't mind. He continued his journey homeward, filled with a deeper joy than he had ever known. He was heading toward his physical homeland, but now he was also on the road to Heaven.

Friday – A Sudden Conversion

Bang! Light flashed. Saul fell to the ground. A voice rang out, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” “Who are You?” Saul cried. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Saul's whole life changed in that instant. The old man, the one who was bent on persecuting Christians, was gone. The truth crashed into his consciousness. Everything he thought he knew was swept away in a flood of a reality he had never even imagined.

Jesus continued, “Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” Saul obeyed immediately, discovering that his physical eyes had been blinded by the intense encounter he had just experienced. Somehow that didn't matter all that much, though. His spiritual eyes were open, and now he could see what was really important. He realized that his newly found Lord had a mission for him, and he was ready to give his whole life to the One he had formerly scorned. As Saul walked along, led by his bemused companions, he reflected on how suddenly life could change.

Saturday – They Went Away

They went away. They simply couldn't grasp Jesus' teaching. They couldn't understand how He could be the Bread of Life, how they could eat His flesh and drink His blood. They didn't know how to trust, how to have faith even in the darkness of fear and confusion. They couldn't accept Jesus' words. So they left.

How often we do that even today! We can't see beyond our preconceived notions of how the world should be. Some point of Jesus' teaching is unclear to us. We can't understand it, and we think we know everything, so we decide that it can't possibly be true. And we go away.

The problem, however, lies with us, not with Jesus and His teaching. Our limited human understanding will not always grasp divine mysteries. We are not meant to know everything. We will not see everything clearly. That's where faith comes in. That's where we need to learn to live in the darkness of mystery. That's where we need to learn to trust that Jesus knows infinitely more than we do, sees infinitely farther than we do, and has a plan for each of us that extends infinitely beyond the plans we have for ourselves.

Let us not go away, then. Let us humble ourselves and recognize our limitations. Let us trust our Lord. Let us cling to Him in the darkness. Let us embrace the mystery. He knows what He is doing, and He has a plan to bring us to eternal happiness, face to face with Him in Heaven.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Reflections for the 3rd Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – Wisdom and the Spirit

Stephen was someone special. That was evident to anyone who heard him speak. God's grace shone brightly as he talked about Jesus and how He died and rose again to save the whole world. His words held a power beyond normal human speech, and they attracted many people. Add to them the signs and wonders that Stephen was performing in Jesus' name, and the man was nearly irresistible.

But some resisted. Certain Jews from the Synagogue of Freedmen couldn't bear to listen to Stephen. His words were too challenging. He demanded too much of a change in their way of thinking. He called them to believe things they simply didn't want to believe. Yet they couldn't debate with him. They couldn't meet him on an even field. Although they didn't realize it, his words were filled with wisdom and the Spirit. No one could stand against him. Or rather, no one could stand again God, Who was using Stephen as His instrument. Stephen's face shone like that of an angel as he spoke. He was confident that no matter what happened to him, the Gospel could never be stopped. The truth would always prevail.

Tuesday – I Am the Bread of Life

The crowds were intrigued. They knew all about the manna God had sent to the Israelites to nourish and preserve them for forty years in the desert. Now they expected Jesus to give them a similar sign to prove His claims. Jesus' response was somewhat cryptic: “My Father gives you the true bread from Heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.”

Jesus' hearers didn't understand what He meant, but the idea sounded good to them. “Sir,” they replied, “give us this bread always.”

They didn't really know what they were asking, so they didn't expect Jesus' answer: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.”

The crowds struggled to understand and believe this statement. How could Jesus be the bread of life? How could He be the true bread from Heaven, the new manna?

Do you understand and believe Jesus' claim? Do you appreciate His great gift of Himself in the Eucharist? Do you recognize Him as the bread of life? Do you turn to Him for nourishment? Do you welcome Him with faith and love? Is He your true bread from Heaven?

Wednesday – Great Joy

The deacon Philip was on mission. He had fled Jerusalem due to persecution against the fledgling Church, but that didn't stop him from proclaiming the Gospel.

The people of Samaria were seekers. Long disparaged by the Jews, they tried to worship God in the best way they know how, but they never seemed to get it right. When Philip arrived in the city announcing the good news of Christ, they flocked to listen and soon witnessed miraculous healings. People with unclean spirits were freed. The paralyzed and crippled walked. Clearly something amazing was happening here.

Great joy filled the city. Salvation had come. The people believed and celebrated. They recognized good news when they saw it, and Philip had brought the best news of all.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Reflections for the 2nd Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Close to the Brokenhearted

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

When your life seems to be falling apart, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When everything is going wrong, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When life throws an unexpected curve and you don't know what to do next, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When you are sick and you can't function as you want, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When a loved one is suffering and there's nothing you can do but pray and wait, God is right beside you, holding you close.

When you've lost someone you love, God is right beside you, holding you close.

Turn to Him. Feel His embrace. He knows your pain and fear. He holds your broken heart in His hands. He cares. He loves you. He may not fix everything right away because He has a plan for you, and that plan stretches far beyond your vision. But He sees. He understands. He will bring good out of everything that is happening, somehow, in some way. Trust Him. Hold on to Him. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

Friday – Some Practical Advice

Gamaliel was a practical sort of man, and he had some practical advice to offer to his fellow members of the Sanhedrin, who were all riled up about the ruckus created by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

Wait and see, Gamaliel told them. He then reminded them of two other such incidents that came to nothing. The disciples of Theudas quickly disbanded after their leader was killed, as did the those of Judas the Galilean. People soon lost interest and went on with their daily lives with no more fuss. Perhaps, Gamaliel implied, the same thing would happen now.

He therefore advised his fellow Jews to do nothing rash, “For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.”

But, he continued, if there really was something to all this, if Jesus really was Who He said he was, if God was indeed behind this, “you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

The Sanhedrin recognized good advice when they heard it (and they didn't know what else to do anyway), so they agreed to Gamaliel's plan. They would wait. They would watch. They hoped this new movement would go the way of the others. But some of them doubted it. Something strange was happening this time, something different, something beyond this world.

Saturday – Do Not Be Afraid

The sea was dark. The wind whipped around the disciples as they struggled to guide their boats across the lashing waves. They began to wonder if they would ever make it to shore.

Then one of them gave a shout. He pointed frantically toward the waves, and the others squinted to see what was so exciting. It took a few moments for the sight to register. It was Jesus! And He was walking on the waves. Fear gripped their hearts. Had He died? Was this His ghost? What else could it be? No one could walk on the sea like that.

As Jesus approached the boat, He looked at the disciples calmly and with great love and said, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Then He climbed in amidst the startled men, and immediately, the boat bumped into the shore even though they had just been in the middle of the sea.

This Gospel episode can easily apply to our lives. Very often we find ourselves in the midst of some storm of life, struggling against the wind and waves that threaten to overwhelm us. We don't know what to do. We feel as though we might go under. We begin to lose hope. And then Jesus appears. We perhaps aren't expecting Him at all, or we may not be anticipating His means of communication, but there He is. We wonder if it is really Him, if He is really coming toward us, if He really cares for us and wants to help us. But then, if we let Him, He climbs into our lives and says, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” Then, sometimes, we bump into shore and our situations are suddenly resolved. Other times, though, we remain on a stormy sea, but it doesn't matter nearly so much. Jesus is with us. He is in control. We do not need to fear. He may allow the wind to blow and the waves to crash, but He will never let us drown. We are safe with Him, safe for eternity.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Reflections for the 2nd Week of Easter, Part 1

Monday – A Sign

The Lord tells Ahaz, king of Judah, to ask for a sign. Not just any sign. A sign that is “as deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky.” God is ready to give such a sign, to prove His love for His people, to assure them of His constant care, and to give them a hint about the wonders He has in store for them.

But Ahaz will not ask. With pretended piety, he proclaims that he will not tempt the Lord (even though the Lord is the One Who told him to ask in the first place). He simply doesn't want to know what God has to say. He has his own plans and his own ideas about what to do and when to do it. He has already consulted the representatives of other "gods" and decided to align himself with his enemies.

The prophet Isaiah, through whom God is speaking, declares that God will give Ahaz a sign whether he wants it or not. “Is it not enough for you to weary people,” Isaiah asks in annoyance, “must you also weary my God?” But the sign will come no matter what: a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and the child's name will be Emmanuel, “God with us.”

This sign probably doesn't mean much to Ahaz. Perhaps he even breathes a sigh of relief because the prophet's message isn't as bad as he had anticipated. Maybe he even thinks that God is simply referring to a future son who will bring him safety and good fortune.

Ahaz, of course, could not be more wrong. He hears only what he wants to hear. God has something much more amazing in mind, something that would shake Ahaz to the core if he realized it, indeed, something that would one day shake the whole world.

Tuesday – Worthy of Trust

“Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed,” the Psalmist tells God.

Do you agree? Do you trust God to proclaim the truth? Do you trust Him to know right from wrong and teach it to you? Do you believe that He loves you so much that He wants you to know and follow His moral law so that you may grow closer to Him? Do you believe that He has tailor made that moral law to perfectly fit your human nature? Do you believe that if you observe that moral law, you will be a better human being, more and more like the person God created you to be? Do you believe that God actually sets you free through the moral law because it is specially designed to free you from slavery to sin and for the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty?

All of this is true, and we should, must, believe it, for God Himself has revealed it. Yes, God, “Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed.”

Wednesday – A Mysterious Disappearance

No one could figure out what had happened. Not the prison guards. Not the court officers. Not the captain of the Temple. Not the chief priests. Not the Sadducees. Not even the high priest.

Those men where definitely in the prison the night before. No doubt about it. The doors were all locked. They were secure. Everything was in order. The guards hadn't moved. They would have seen anyone going in or coming out.

And yet, in the morning, the men were gone. The jail was still locked up tight. The guards were still on duty. But no one was inside the cell. It was like they had mysteriously disappeared into thin air.

As the officials, priests, and Sadducees scratched their heads and tried to figure out what to do next, someone came in and announced, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.” Everyone looked at each other, perplexed. What in the world was going on here?

The apostles knew. They had calmly followed an angel out of jail. And now they were gladly proclaiming the Gospel, ready to give everything they had for the Lord, even to the last breath. To them, their disappearance from the jail cell wasn't mysterious at all; it was just more evidence of Jesus' great love for them.