6th Week of Easter, Tuesday, May 11
Acts 16:22-34 / John 16:5-11
Jesus speaks about the Spirit; "The Spirit will convict the world about sin. "
The expression "convict the world," or "prove the world wrong," means something very special. It means the world will recognize on its own that it was wrong. The religious leaders who crucified Jesus on Good Friday didn't believe they were sinning.But when they heard Peter preach about the crucifixion on Pentecost, they were seized with the terrible conviction that what they had done was wrong. Moreover, they were the by which that incredible crime had been committed. (Acts 2:37)
How sensitive are we in our life and in our conscience? Peter said to the crowd on Pentecost, " 'God has made this Jesus whom you crucified.' Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, 'What are we to do, my brothers?'
Paul started his work in Philippi, a Roman colony. The empire builders had built settlements for army veterans at strategically important places. Though retired, they were very loyal and ready to defend the realm. The via-Ignatia, a road that connected Babylon with Rome, passed through the town. Here we come to learn the meaning of an expression often used: missionary spirit, full commitment and dedication to the Word of God. A possessed girl was used by her rich owner as a soothsayer. She foretold the clients their future. Paul exorcised her, not considering the consequences this was bound to have. Having lost their main source of income, these unscrupulous men dragged the missionaries before the magistrate. Without a trial they were condemned, were given many lashes and then thrown into prison. There they prayed and sang God's praises. They rejoiced to be allowed to suffer for the love of Jesus. They meant it to be their share in redeeming this world with the suffering Christ. The next day the jailer became a Christian. he, who had put them into the stocks. Paul bore him no grudges; he instructed him whilst the jailer washed and bandaged the wounds. That is the missionary spirit. From there they went to Lydia 's house to recover.
The life of Christ which the community of Christ leads and the mentality of Christ alive is in the Church, will bear witness against the world as far as it is still unredeemed and full of evil. The world accuses Christ to be a sinner, finds him guilty in its trial as an unjust man and condemns him. But who is the sinner? Who is found guilty? Who is condemned? Not Christ but the world. Who will prove this? The Spirit of Christ alive in the Church. If the Church lives the life of the just Christ, the works of the world will stand out as unjust, and the life of Christ led by Christians will be a condemnation of the world and its powers of evil.
There are many movies about people who were wrongly accused and they had to go through the turmoil of being arrested, thrown into prison, but later they escaped and much later they were exonerated. Movies like "The Fugitive" and maybe "Shawshank Redemption" have this particular theme. The 1st reading also has a bit of this theme, as Paul and Silas were flogged and thrown into prison, not for any wrong-doing, but because of the hostility against them. But it was in that prison that something supernatural happened as they were praying and singing God's praises. There was a strong earthquake, the doors flew open, and the chains fell from all the prisoners.
It was quite obvious that God was intervening for His messengers. It was also like what Jesus said in the gospel about what the Holy Spirit will do to show the world how wrong it was about sin, about who is in the right, and about judgement. Our share of turmoil may not be as dramatic as that of Paul and Silas.
And when wrong is done to us, or when we are wrongly accused, our instinct may be that of retaliation. But an eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth mentality has never brought about any good.
Let us follow what Paul and Silas did. Let us keep praying and singing God's praises. That will bring about an intervention of the Holy Spirit that will bring about God's judgement.
Christians live in the world. The world is always a danger to men. Christ is the light, but men like darkness more. Holy Spirit will show men how wrong sin. Greek word 'paraclete' is 'advocate' in Latin. It reminds us of the court of law. It means the one who is called in to help us. As an advocate, by cross examination, brings out and shows to the discerning judge the guilt, so the Holy Spirit leads us to understand what sin is. No Christian will understand the need of a Saviour unless he has a clear idea about sin, or a sense of sin. It is the Spirit that has to show the ugliness of sine He will have to lead us to the foot of the Cross and make us look up to him who died for the sins of men. There the Christian understands what sin has done and what he has to do. The Spirit will always make us understand judgement and that the prince of this world is already condemned.
Lord, our God, you demand much of us, your Church, by calling us to be witnesses of your Son and of his message, although we are men and women who share in the sin of the world. Send us your Holy Spirit to open us all the time, to renewal and conversion, that your Church may show to the world the true face of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord forever. Amen