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Blessing and Praising God

by May 7, 2024Friar Reflection

Today we see an amazing attitude in Paul and Silas – an attitude that has been largely forgotten by modern day Christians. After preaching they are arrested. At the public trial the whole crowd of people present there spoke against them. As a result, they were beaten or whipped and sent to jail. Now if I had been publicly humiliated, beaten, whipped, and thrown into jail, I would probably be angry at the whole world, cursing everything around me (maybe even God), and most of all trying to sleep. Yet the text recalls how Paul and Silas sing praises to God right through midnight! This is the attitude of praise, blessing, and thanksgiving.

This attitude of praise and blessing was the product of a very deep faith in them. That attitude also nourished their faith. It also produced a dramatic change in their life. God broke them out of their captivity: an earthquake freed them from chains, the prisoners and jailers converted, and their jailer took them into his house and attended to their wounds. Their attitude of blessing changed their reality.

As Christians our vocation is to bless God in every moment. A true Christian rooted in the resurrection, shows joy to others at all times. We do not have a vocation to curse God or events in our lives, nor do we have a vocation to obligate God to do what we think is beneficial. That is why the Our Father says: “your will be done”. Our vocation is to bless God; give thanks to God; praise God. Most of us invert the equation – we want God to bless us. We want to receive things and benefits from God.

In this land of supposed opportunity and supposed wealth it is difficult to have an attitude of blessing and praise to God. Here everything is based on work, insurance, and wealth. Have you ever praised God at a Sunday dinner of nothing more than rice and beans; not knowing if there will be food on the table tomorrow? Have you ever praised God while surrounded by hostile terrorists; not knowing if they will recruit your son or daughter soon? Have you ever praised God for your sickness or your child’s sickness?

How does God free us from our slavery, our self-imposed imprisonment, our profound, hidden sadness, our depression? Through an attitude of blessing, praise, and thanksgiving.

About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying

and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened,

there was suddenly such a severe earthquake

that the foundations of the jail shook;

all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose.