Step #1: Lectio / Read
The high priest rose up and all his companions,
that is, the party of the Sadducees,
and, filled with jealousy,
laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail.
But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison,
led them out, and said,
“Go and take your place in the temple area,
and tell the people everything about this life.”
When they heard this,
they went to the temple early in the morning and taught.
When the high priest and his companions arrived,
they convened the Sanhedrin,
the full senate of the children of Israel,
and sent to the jail to have them brought in.
But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison,
so they came back and reported,
“We found the jail securely locked
and the guards stationed outside the doors,
but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”
When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report,
they were at a loss about them,
as to what this would come to.
Then someone came in and reported to them,
“The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area
and are teaching the people.”
Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them,
but without force,
because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
You've got to admit, this is just funny.
We like potty humor at our house -- farting, pooping, burping, butt cheeks, etc. (Sorry if you're reading this early in the morning.) Sometimes the potty humor infiltrates the dinner table. We have four kids, ages eight and under. When they get going on the potty humor during dinner, my wife and are obliged to be the mature adults and correct them. We give them the stern-parent face. You know, the tilting-my-head-down-and-looking-over-the-top-of-my-glasses look. We tell them that they need to tone it down. Of course, this often only makes them laugh harder and make even more fart sounds.
Eventually my wife and I cave in and start cracking up too. I don't care who you are. It's funny stuff.
There's something humorous about watching someone trying to gain control over other people or a situation, but it only seems to make it worse. Then they get more frustrated and things get even more out of control. A crazy snowball.
In the Acts of the Apostles, the chief priests and the Sadducees have spent a lot of time trying to gain control over the Apostles. They correct them, arrest them, bring them before the Sanhedrin's court. Today they actually throw them in prison. Miraculously, the Apostles escape. But they don't run away in fear. They go right back to making a huge scene outside the temple. It appears that throwing the Apostles in prison only seemed to make them more determined to preach their message.
I imagine God was watching this and giggling to Himself. He's not remotely intimidated by the Jewish authorities. In my head, as God sends His angel to unlock the prison doors and free the Apostles, He chuckles about the chief priests and Sadducees who are trying so hard to be in control. "Ha ha ha! That's hilarious! You think you're in charge! Silly Sadducees!"
But the reality is, God's in charge. He knows what He's doing, and He's really good at it. St. Paul tells us, "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). But do we really believe that? Are we like the chief priests and the Sadducees, clinging desperately to our illusion of control? Or are we like the Apostles, gladly going to prison for Jesus, then once an angel breaks us out, going right back to doing the very thing that landed us in jail in the first place? All because we know that God is in charge. He's calling the shots. His will is good and always rooted in love.
How do you live your life? Struggling to be in control as if it all depends on you? Or striving to give up control because you know it all depends on the One who created you and loves you?
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
What's a big decision I've made recently? Did I make it by myself or did I have a conversation with God about it first?
Are there times I believe that God can't really give me any practical help? That in the end, it all depends on me?
How can I truly believe and live the reality that God is in charge?
What are some upcoming decisions or situations that I could try giving to God instead of trying to take control myself?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Thy will be done."
"Lord, I give You control."
"Help me let go, Jesus."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Try laughing at yourself every time you try to take control of a situation over which you have no control. And remember that God laughs with you.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff.