Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Trial of a Lifetime

I used to love watching shows like Matlock and Law and Order.   There was something so fascinating about the legal process in our country.   The most beautiful part of our system is everyone is entitled to representation, even if they cannot afford it.   In many other countries around the world not only is the system less fair for the poor and minority groups, but it also doesn’t necessarily give them a voice when they have none.   Sure, there are many problems still and many innocent men and women end up going to prison.   That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t recognize the greatness of a system that realizes the law is so complex not knowing it intimately could lead to a wrongful imprisonment.

Paul and Silas just can’t seem to catch a break in their early ministry.  One day they are being beaten.  The next they are mistaken for gods.  Another day was beaten.  Then they find rest with Lydia in Philippi.    Then again today we find them beaten with rods and thrown into prison.   I imagine if that happened to me I’d be in the corner crying in fear, asking God why.   Instead, we find them in the darkness of a first-century prison singing hymns and songs of praise.  A great earthquake comes, shaking the prison open.   The result of this was not Paul and Silas running out into the night to freedom, rather the conversion of the jailer and his family (all of them, even the young ones.)   Their counselor spoke for them.   Spoke words so amazingly profound it shook the foundations of the world and changed people on a spiritual level.

Jesus reminds us of that Counselor again in today’s Gospel.  He reminds his apostles who before had questioned where He was going, and today are either too amazed, dumbfounded or maybe even scare to pose that question again; that if He doesn’t go, the Advocate will not come.  Notice the juridical language being used to show the Spirit as not just one who speaks for us, but also one who prosecutes those who fail to follow Christ’s command.  Often we try to take that role upon ourselves.   We spend entirely too much time repeating ourselves ad nauseam about what we think someone else should be doing, so much so that we forget to love them as well.   As my confessor once told me, speak the truth, but once they have heard it don’t harp on it and push them away.    The Spirit, the Paraclete, will not only strengthen us but will also convict the world of their own sins in a way well beyond our own capabilities.   He’s our lawyer in a courtroom that we only have a vague understanding of.  Our defense eternity.   God’s holy prosecutor.  The one alone who can judge who is a member of the family of God and our greatest defense against the one who hates us even more for that gift we have been given: the accuser of our brethren, the ruler of this world.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins


"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14

A reflection on the readings for Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter: May 23nd, 2017

Acts 16:22-34
Psalm 138
John 16:5-11