Here’s the wisdom as we head into May.
16:16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling.
16:17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.”
16:18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
16:19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities.
16:20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews
16:21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.”
16:22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods.
16:23 After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely.
16:24 Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
16:26 Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.
16:27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped.
16:28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
16:29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
16:30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
16:31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
16:32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
16:33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.
16:34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
He Won’t Be with Us Long
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…” – Luke 14:13
You smell him before you see him. Urine and sweat announce him, a filthy man held together by a worn leather belt. He’s all caved in, watery and trembling. Leaning against the wall of the bar-café, he raves about an old injustice.
He’s ten feet from my terrace table. Now I can’t smell the smoky paprika that seasons the artful tapa on my plate, or the orange blossoms on the trees that shade the square. Only him. I don’t know why people don’t get up and leave. Or how I keep eating.
It’s alcohol and who knows what else that reduced him, some heartache, some rift, some bad bounce of the ball. You can’t tell how old he is or whether he was once a handsome man. I think he will starve to death within the week.
I offer the waiter twenty euros: ‘Please give him something to eat.’ The waiter won’t take it. ‘We take care of him,’ he says. ‘He comes every day. He doesn’t eat much anymore, anyway. He won’t be with us long. His name is Gregorio.’
I think to myself, chastened: It’s one thing to make a place for the poor at your own benevolent discretion. It’s another when they come by every day, all human wreckage and unholy hygiene. It’s one thing to find occasions to be kind. It’s another to know a lost man’s name, that he can’t eat much anymore, that he won’t be with us long.
Jesus, friend of the poor, have mercy on Gregorio. Have mercy on the waiter at La Huerta. And have mercy on me.
Let’s remake the world with words.
Not frivolously, nor
To hide from what we fear,
But with a purpose.
As Wordsworth said, remove
“The dust of custom” so things
Shine again, each object arrayed
In its robe of original light.
And then we’ll see the world
As if for the first time.
As once we gazed at the beloved
Who was gazing at us.
~ Gregory Orr ~