The Power of Words

19 May 2009 Tuesday of the 6th Week of Easter
Acts 16, 22-34 & John 16, 5-11

In the story in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Silas had endured blows and then, were thrown into prison in Philippi. In the innermost prison, while their feet were chained, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God. While the prisoners listened to their prayers and songs, by the hand of God, an earthquake destroyed the foundations of the jail and thus released them. The jailer out of fear of being punished, was about to take his life, when Paul and Silas assured him that they will not escape. By doing so, the jailer became their host and his whole household listened to their preaching. Eventually, they were baptized and became new converts to the faith.

One thing strikes me: Paul and Silas’ assuring words for the jailer, who was afraid, and Paul and Silas’ words of God that eventually converted them to Christianity. Words therefore are not superfluous but can affect people’s lives. In the reading, we saw that words removed the fear in the jailer’s heart, and words changed the lives of the jailer’s household.

I have a story: A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that there were as good as dead. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that there were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took head to what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He fell down and died.
The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Two lessons about the words we say:

1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.

2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them.

Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path. The power of words: it is sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way. Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times.
Paul and Silas have done otherwise. It is indeed tough to speak kindly on those who have hurt us. Paul and Silas have endured pain and rejection from the people of Philippi.
However, as disciples of Jesus, they have spoken reassuring words to the jailer which led them to change his life and his entire household completely.

As the Gospel today speaks about the Paraclete or the Holy Spirit who will enable people to speak about God, so too can we speak encouragingly to our brothers and sisters who need kind words; even if they have hurt us or even if their personalities have tested our patience.
Indeed, special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.

Published by Jboy Gonzales SJ

TV/Digital host: Kape't Pandasal. Vlog: YT On the Line. Environment, Youth Formation. Music. Leadership. Always dancing to a different drum.

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