The sudden change in the attitude of the jailer in the first reading invites study and reflection. In one instant he’s a terrified, fearful man, bent on suicide. In the next he’s leading his prisoners out of the jail, bathing their wounds, and spreading a feast before them. He was fearful because he thought his prisoners had escaped from detention. Now, by his own volition and decision he gives freedom to these same men who have been entrusted to his charge by his superiors.
Paul, of course, along with Silas, reacted much differently when confronted with crisis. Without any semblance of a trial, Paul had been scourged publicly. He was a Roman citizen, and to scourge a Roman citizen was a crime punishable by death. Furthermore a Roman citizen could not be punished at all without a trial. Yet, in spite of this public, very painful, humiliating, and unjust experience, we find Paul, and Silas with him, marvelously calm, though chained in prison. When the earthquake struck, their calm continued. Paul calmly called out to the jailer to dissuade him from killing himself.
Paul and Silas, and the jailer as well, found their faith an enormous source of strength. Depending on the depth of our faith and the intensity of our love for the Lord Jesus, we share this same source of strength with them. In time of crisis, for instance when we must accept rejection by those we love and admire for the sake of Christ’s values or when because of these same values we must say no to wealth immorally acquired, we can dip into this strength-source. The Lord Jesus himself will share his strength with us. Then we will profess Jesus joyfully, even though the environment be hostile.