A Vincentian View: No Chaining the Word of God

by | Oct 12, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

Four of Paul’s epistles are called “captivity letters:”   Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.  Paul wrote each of these documents while he was locked up for the sake of the Gospel in either Rome or Ephesus.  We can note the way in which he calls attention to his incarceration, and most significantly how it connects with his proclamation of the Gospel.  A letter to Timothy, which we heard on this past Sunday, draws attention to the Apostle’s experiences and his resolve.

“This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.” (2 Tim 2:8-10)

For Paul, nothing should hinder or compromise the preaching of God’s Word!

To the Church in Ephesus, he writes:

 [Pray] that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.  (Eph 6:19-20)

Paul asks the Church to pray for him that he may have the courage to speak the Gospel message.  He has been imprisoned for his bold words; he has suffered beatings and stonings.  But, he knows that these cannot stop him.  He must continue to speak God’s Word convincingly and openly to any who will listen.  In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul preaches in prison to the other prisoners and to his captors (Acts 16:25-32).  At a later time, he preaches before Agrippa even though burdened with chains (Acts 26:29).   The shackles cannot hinder the Gospel even to its revelation among those who forged the bonds. The Word of God is not chained.

To the Church in Philippi, Paul writes from his confinement:

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that my situation has turned out rather to advance the gospel, so that my imprisonment has become well known in Christ throughout the whole praetorium and to all the rest, and so that the majority of the brothers and sisters, having taken encouragement in the Lord from my imprisonment, dare more than ever to proclaim the word fearlessly. (Phi 1:12-14)

Paul rejoices in the fact that his jail time does not hinder the proclamation of God’s word.  On the contrary, other Christians are strengthened by his situation and suffering.  Everyone knows—friend and foe—that his subjugation is due to his ministry.  His supporters begin to announce the Gospel more boldly.  Paul’s experience gives them the courage to do what needs to be done and he expresses his contentment with this state of affairs.  He gladly undergoes bondage if it sets others free to preach.  If one person is silenced, another can and should take up the proclamation.  There is no chaining the Word of God.

The other Epistles provide a similar sense of Paul’s desire to promote the story of Jesus despite the cost.

Vincent never saw himself (or a missionary) excused from the responsibility to preach.  I love the passage where he speaks about this reality.

“If I could not preach every day, eh bien, I’d do it twice a week!  If I couldn’t give long sermons, I’d try to give short ones; if, again, people did not understand me at those short ones, what would prevent me from speaking plainly and simply to those good people in the way I’m speaking to you right now, gathering them around me, as you are?”  (CCD 11 #100, p. 123)

In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis “encourages the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization” (para 1).

“God’s word is not chained.”  We pray that this emphasis may prove true in our hearing, speaking and acting.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This