Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Witness

In today's First Reading (Acts 16:22-34) Paul and Silas are attacked by the crowd, then the magistrates had them stripped and beaten with rods. Then after 'inflicting many blows on them', they're thrown into prison, into the 'innermost cell with their feet secured to a stake'. It's all said in an almost matter of fact bit of writing, but one's imagination (at least mine) begins to work. Think about it. Paul and Silas are probably proclaiming he Good News everywhere they go, and some accept the word and some do not. Folks gang up on them and at the least start pushing them around, but more than likely things became worse. Knocked down and kicked, thrown punches out of nowhere to the side of the head, verbal abuse, we know how crowds get today, we've seen it on the news, and I'm sure it wasn't much different then. Then dragged off somewhere to be stripped and beaten with rods. I can really only picture this whole thing for a bit. It's a wonder Paul and Silas lived through it. More than likely some sort of permanent damage was done to their bodies somewhere. But not to their faith. After spending the night singing hymns of praise, after God provides an earthquake to blow open the doors and break their chains they then show love to their oppressor by telling him not to kill himself, they are still here. So many levels of Christs' spirit is moving here in this story. But the point I'm trying to make is that Paul and Silas were witnesses. Paul particularly never stopped witnessing, and I'm sure Silas didn't either. And as we witness in this story, the power of the Holy Spirit turns the jailer into a prisoner of Christ, as Paul converts him and his whole family. Like I said earlier, the matter of fact telling frees the imagination, lets us put ourselves back in time to then, as we feel the blows rain upon our backs as rod rips flesh.

And they never wavered.

Last weekend H and I attended the K of C Wives/Widows/Priests/Religious Appreciation Dinner at a local restaurant. As we had small talk with Knights and wives it became apparent that what H and I consider Catholic and spiritual had nothing in common with the two wives who were doing most of the talking with us. Now I'm not going to get into a 'who's holier than who' contest. I am no different than anyone, a sinner am I, probably worse than them, I'm sure. I'm not going to go into what was said, you've all heard the same things we heard, statements that come from good people, just luke-warm Catholics. My point is, the whole situation made me uncomfortable, to the point where I just didn't have the correct answers to refute what they were saying. And when I did have them I was lukewarm in my effort to challenge them, to change their minds or as St. Paul and Silas did to proclaim the Good News to them. I was not a very good witness. I had the opportunity and I failed miserably. I didn't have that fire burning in my heart when I needed it most. I don't want to be the kind of Catholic that does only well around like minded people. Even sinners love sinners. I'm hoping I can find at least a little bit of St. Paul in me. This is something I have to work at.

Holy Spirit, be with me when I need you most,
in times of trial and wickedness.
Flood my heart with the light from above
and free my lips to do His will.

9 comments:

Daily Grace said...

This post is a beautiful "witness" to your faith and love of our Lord Jesus' and your Franciscan background shines through in your reflection.

I like how you have added "And they never wavered." It says a lot.

As I was reading the latter reflection regarding the restaurant conversation, I didn't think "holier than thou" at all. People are just in different spiritual phases than others. You and H are called to go deeper.

A scripture passage came to mind while reading this from John 10,
"the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers."

I think that your journey, your time in adoration has sharpened your hearing...and you long to hear the Shepherd wherever you go.

Love your prayer. Peace :)

puzzled said...

What a beautiful Post this is Kam. Thank you for sharing your lovly thoughts with us. I am sending you a SUNSHINE AWARD.

KAM said...

Thank you both for dropping by and adding your comments. They are always appreciated. k

brother Joseph, SFO said...

Thank you for sharing the wonderful story of St. Paul and St. Silas standing their ground (in faith) even while being terribly attacked. Their eyes were focused on the Lord of the Universe and, in the end, that Lord revealed that EVERYTHING WAS IN HIS HANDS. Alleluia! God is faithful. About your experience at the banquet - how many times has that happened to me?! The Lord reminds me, as I write, of what He said through St. Paul "Sanctify the Lord in your heart" and He will tell you what to say. If Jesus is Lord of our hearts and these opportunities present themselves then He will flood us with love and compassion but also infuse us with His own understanding and wisdom and then He will give us the words that are 'a light in a dark place'. I join in your prayer - for you but also for myself - God have mercy on us, transform us into Good, and accomplish His good will in us and through us. God bless you brother. Keep fighting that good fight - against the darkness of our sinful nature (flesh). I am confident that Christ will give you the victory! Pray for me to. Always, your brother and servant in Christ!

the booklady said...

Dear KAM,

A humble, heart-felt post. As a spectator to the whole event, I think you were given a gift. Often we think we are called to 'be all things to all people' when in fact we aren't. Most likely nothing you could have said would have made much difference ... and yet, God let this experience be a part of your spiritual journey to shine lights in areas where you need to see better. Perhaps it is that you need(ed) to concentrate your prayer life, ask for more help from the Communion of Saints, seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, embrace a new adventure in humility or brush up on your apologetics. Every encounter is a lesson or a challenge. What matters is if we respond with an open, loving heart or ... not. I heard and felt your love for God and desire to do His Will in reaching out to those who still hide their lights.

You are the better, the wiser, the stronger for having 'been-there-done-that'.

Beautiful prayer!

God bless you!

KAM said...

Bro. Joseph - Thanks for your comments, always appreciated. I guess I could say that I didn't want to rock the boat at a K of C function, so I kept my mouth fairly shut, but I don't think that was the case. After long thought about it I feel, sadly, that even though I think and dream that I've given everything completly over to the Lord, I don't think I have, not really. I know that there is still a part of me that holds onto things, usually in times of stress, (that night, for example), and I'm left to my own devices instead of letting the Lord 'fill me up'. At Saturday morning Mass yesterday, near the end of the Homily Fr. D. said "Seek God, all the rest is details," Those words went right to my heart. I knew what he meant and what I should do. Thanks for dropping by. k

KAM said...

T.b.- Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, as you say I was given a gift, but like most gifts that He gives me they usually always occur in hindsight! Most often I'm left standing open-mouthed, watching the event unfold before my eyes. Thank the Lord for H, she is a strong defender of the faith, a good apologist, you might say. She held her ground well. In my case, more specific prayer is need, for sure. Thanks. k

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Hi Kam, I would like to suggest a book to you. Perhaps you have read it. It is called The Fire Within (Fr. Thomas Dubay). Your post reminded me of it. Have a great week!

KAM said...

Thank you, Puzzled, for the Sunshine Award. What is it?