About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.
While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him. The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists. The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”
Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
The story of Peter’s liberation from prison is such a great story to pray with. I enter into it with my imagination and sit next to Peter and feel the weight of the chains on my wrists and this quickly invites me to ask, “What is binding me this day? What is keeping me imprisoned and unfree?” Then I imagine hearing the voice of the angel and seeing the light. This reminds me that I cannot free myself. I can only be open to the variety of ways the Lord may be reaching out to me, guiding me to healing. The scripture also reminds me that healing is a journey. The angel took Peter past one guard, then another. The gate leading out of the city opened and they made their way down an alley . . .
Today I invite you to consider, What has you bound or imprisoned, keeping you from being who God created you to be? Maybe an addiction, an attitude, expectations, fear, guilt or shame? What are the guards that are in the way on your journey to healing? And, maybe most importantly, can you pray for and notice God’s help on the journey?
—Amy Hoover, spiritual director and a frequent spiritual writer, is Director of the Creighton University Retreat Center, located in Griswold, IA.
Holy Spirit, come! Open my mind to seek the truth. Break down the barriers that imprison me. Empower me to overcome any guilt by asking for forgiveness. Enable me to forgive others and release my past hurt and anger. Open my eyes to vices, habits, and attitudes that are destructive to me and to others. Guide me to true freedom with your Word. Amen
—Excerpted from the Catholic Youth Bible, © St. Mary’s Press, Winona, MN, 2005.Please share the Good Word with your friends!