April 22, 2020 – Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042220.cfm)
I remember a friend inside the prison when I was still a Seminarian. In today’s language the inmates are called, Persons Deprived of Liberty. They have been deprived liberty because of a crime committed or suspected to have done a crime. In one of our Prison Visits, as a group of Seminarians, I asked how was he and his life inside the City Jail. Great was his dismay for the crime he did. He violated the law and so deserved to be punished. Because of this, he felt deep longing and loneliness. He had many fears but for him, he said, he had to face them because he had to pay the crime he did.
In our first reading, Peter and John were also deprived of liberty. This was not their first imprisonment. This was, in fact, the second time they were brought to the prison. They were imprisoned because the Jewish authorities were filled with jealousy. These authorities were jealous because of the many good things the apostles did.
As the Apostles preached about Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, they too healed the sick and helped the poor and the needy around them. They responded with generosity to those who needed their help. What the Apostles did were concrete expressions of what they believed and held in their hearts, and that was, the person of the Risen Jesus.
As Peter and John were imprisoned, they must have been afraid and worried on what will happen to them. However, at this time, they had enough trust and faith in God. The constant invitation of Jesus, “Do not be afraid!” has grown in their hearts. Thus, the two were freed from prison so that they may be able to continue their good deeds and preach the goodness of God.
These are just two kinds of physical imprisonment. One is imprisoned because of a crime committed and the other because those in authorities were just filled with jealousy and malice towards those who did good and preached the Gospel.
However, there is also another form of imprisonment which is not physical. This was the case of the Jewish authorities. The Chief priests, Sadducees and Pharisees who continued to persecute the Apostles and felt jealous towards them, were truly imprisoned by their blindness and hardness of heart. They were imprisoned by their greed and envy, by their fear and doubts and by their refusal to believe in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Thus, they have self-imprisoned themselves with their own jealousy and unbelief. The Gospel portrays these kinds of people, of those who preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.
With this, we may also ask ourselves. In what way am I also being imprisoned? Or what is it that imprisons me today, or that prevents me to be free and to be truly who I am?
When we become fearful and try to hide our actions, these are just signs that our heart is not free. When we become ashamed of ourselves, ashamed of what happened to us, of our past experiences, these are also signs of an imprisoned heart. When we tend to control others, dominate and abuse the weak, or in our arrogance, in deceiving others, by becoming indifferent to the needs of others, or thinking that our possessions in this world will make us happy and contented, or to think that we need to become somebody else to be recognized and to be praised, then, these are also signs of a person who is imprisoned in the darkness of fear and insecurity.
Thus, let us be more reflective and discerning of these things and ask the grace from the Risen Christ to enlighten us. Pray, that we may be able to see and recognize the areas of our life where we are being imprisoned. Pray, that we may be free and become the person and community that we are called to be, and that is to be “light,” especially in this great and dark crisis today. Hence, believe in the Risen Christ, in Jesus who brings us light because Jesus was sent by the Father to redeem us and not to condemn us to death.
Let us also join our prayers to Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help so that she may help us in recognizing better ourselves and to see the light of the face of her Son, Jesus. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR