“I issued orders that [Paul] be kept in custody until I could send him to the emperor.” —Acts 25:21
The goal of Acts of the Apostles is that the Gospel message reach to the ends of the earth. Acts considers Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, to be “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The last seven chapters of Acts record a series of extremely messy events which led St. Paul to Rome. In order for the Gospel to reach Rome, Paul had to endure great sufferings. Paul paid the price of two extra years in prison so that the gospel could be heard by the highest officials in the Roman Empire. Yet Paul rejoiced because his personal sufferings turned into a blessing for evangelization, saying: “My situation has worked out to the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil 1:12).
Paul wasn’t the only one who endured messy situations for the spread of the gospel. St. Peter paid the price of being bound and held captive so as to build up the Church (see Jn 21:18-19). Jesus spent over thirty years separated from the bliss of heavenly union with His Father so that the gospel could reach a lost world.
As servants of God, we are “taken captive by God to do His will” (2 Tm 2:26), and God’s will is that all people “be saved and come to know the truth” (1 Tm 2:4). The messes in our lives may be precisely the means that God uses for a greater purpose — to spread His Word. Say with Jesus, Peter, and Paul: “I am not seeking my own will but the will of Him Who sent me” (Jn 5:30).
Prayer: Jesus, I would rather endure years of suffering for You and Your Word than live in comfort without You (see Ps 84:11). I give my life to You so Your sheep may be fed (Jn 21:15-17).
Promise: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He put our transgressions from us.” —Ps 103:12
Praise: Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs for Jesus, ministered to their fellow prisoners.