on trial for the gospel
"I issued orders that he be kept in custody until I could send him to the emperor." —Acts 25:21
Paul's ongoing imprisonment featured a mockery of justice. Accusers charged him with nonsensical "crimes." His case consisted of interminable delays as he was handed from one authority to another. It seemed like Paul was "for nothing, uselessly," spending his strength (Is 49:4). Yet from an evangelistic standpoint, the aimless circumstances were not useless or aimless at all. As persecutions and mismanagement increase, so did Paul's opportunities to spread the gospel, witness to Jesus, and evangelize. Paul wasn't frustrated or worn down, partly because the Holy Spirit mercifully gave Paul advance notice as he traveled "from city to city that chains and hardship" awaited him (Acts 20:23).
Paul could have interpreted the Spirit's warning as one of gloom, and minimized his sufferings. Alternatively, Paul could have prepared his soul for the upcoming trials. Paul decided to give evidence by his behavior of his love for Jesus (Jn 21:15) by evangelizing those insulated from hearing the gospel, such as Agrippa, Festus, and the Emperor. He realized that without his testimony as a prisoner, these people might never hear the gospel.
Paul heeded the Spirit's warning. He purified himself (Acts 21:26). He testified to some disciples: "I am prepared to die for the name of the Lord Jesus" (see Acts 21:13). When Paul's trials arrived, he could testify powerfully to the resurrection of Jesus.
How about you? What warnings has the Spirit given you during this Pentecost Novena? Will you receive the Spirit even though hardships await you? Will you be ready to tell those you meet about Jesus? Will you love Him enough to feed His sheep? (Jn 21:17)
Prayer: Jesus, may all prisoners who read this receive the Spirit on Pentecost and joyfully witness to You. Bless them with hope.
Promise: "His kingdom rules over all." —Ps 103:19
Praise: Samuel praises God for being sent to prison because it was there he found Jesus, his Savior.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 3, 2008
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