Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
At the beginning of today’s first reading, a crowd of Philippians has fallen upon Paul and Silas, and has convinced the local authorities to have these men stripped, beaten with rods, and thrown into prison. Given how yesterday’s reading ended, one might wonder what Paul and Silas had done to make the Philippians so angry. Here is the story leading up to today’s first reading.
As we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl with an oracular spirit, who used to bring a large profit to her owners through her fortune-telling. She began to follow Paul and us, shouting, “These people are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She did this for many days. Paul became annoyed, turned, and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Then it came out at that moment.
When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the public square before the local authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These people are Jews and are disturbing our city and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us Romans to adopt or practice.” (Acts 16:16-21)
It is an amazing story. In these Philippians who sought to make money off of the spiritual enslavement of that poor girl, we see a clear example of those convicted by the Spirit in today’s Gospel. Moreover, the examples continue to this day. From those who seek to profit from contemporary occult practices, to those critiqued by Pope St. John Paul II for treating others merely as producers or consumers of goods, spiritual enslavement for financial gain was not only a problem for Philippi. Let us pray that Christ who promises His Spirit may fill us with joy in seeing others as He does, as those to be loved, not used.