Protestants sometimes charge Catholics with “vain repetition” in praying the Rosary. This is a reference to Matthew 6:7, where Jesus instructs, “When you pray to not babble with vain repetition as the pagans do.” …
October is known as the Month of the Holy Rosary. This tradition was promoted by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. She wanted everybody to pray the Rosary for peace. At the time when the three children saw the Blessed Virgin, World War I, also known as the Great War, was in full swing. Our Lady predicted the end of the war through people praying the Rosary. She said that the Rosary had the power to end wars. But she did not just predict that the Great War would end, she said that it would end soon, but if the people did not repent, there would be an even more devastating world war to follow. Continue reading →
As Paul and Timothy were singing and praying in the jail, there came an earthquake that jarred the doors and chains loose (Acts 16:26). The guard was about to kill himself when Paul told him not to. Sounds like a strange thing on two accounts: first, why would a guard try killing himself; and second, Paul was comforting the guard.
I will start with the second issue, Paul comforting the guard. It illustrates for us Paul’s love for the guard. He is being detained for evil purposes. But this does not hinder Paul’s concern for the well-being of the guard. This leads us to the next issue.
On the first issue, Roman guards were killed if they found their captors gone. It would be a disgrace to them and their families if anybody got loose. It would be a torturous death at that. So many would kill themselves rather than go through that. It actually became more honorable to kill yourself. This man was as good as dead. But then he asks, “What must I do to be saved?” (verse30).
Notice Paul’s response. Paul says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The first thing we need to do is believe in the Lord Jesus.
So the first thing the Apostles need to do is preach the Gospel message. Without the Gospel message, we would never know what to believe. Notice also that they do not give them a bible, but rather speak the words to them that Jesus himself taught and did. Because of their preaching, they want to be baptized (v33). Such a great interaction comes here. They are baptized. The guard and his whole household.
Now imagine this: the guard was going to kill himself. He was as good as dead. Paul brings him back to his house alive. How grateful the whole household must have been. That guard was probably the sole means of making money. That one life affected many other people. Before the baptism, they washed Paul and Silas’ wounds. They feel the need to make things right. They are willing to accept the responsibility for what has happened to them. Then Paul baptizes them. Since the whole household was baptized, it is traditionally assumed that babies were baptized with them. All the people in the house accept Jesus in their lives that day by virtue of their baptism.
Only after the baptism do they celebrate. Why? It seems that they would have accepted Jesus in their lives before they were baptized. What makes them feel the need to be baptized? We see this constantly in the Acts of the Apostles. Only after the baptism is there any mention of “joy” and “newfound faith” (v34). Something very real has happened. Only after the baptism do we find the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the theological virtues. They are changed from within. True and lasting happiness enters into their lives.
The overview of this baptism is that they preach to them and then they get baptized. The preaching must happen first because the preaching explains why you would want to be baptized. It is the faith that inspires a person to want to be baptized, so the faith leads to baptism. Baptism makes you Children of God and the offering of eternal life gives hope, even in suffering.
So are Paul and Silas released from jail? No. Paul goes and baptizes the whole household of the guard who beat them, and Paul does not assume that he will be released. He knows that if he is gone, the guard would still be killed. Paul loves the guard and his household and does not want them to perish. He voluntarily goes back to the jail.
Deacon Paul Ranney gives a homily reminding us to be a light to the world and giving us some advice on how to do just that.