Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30).
Rarely do I read this story of Sts. Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail that I don’t smile.
Of course, what the prison guard meant by his question is not really clear. Did he refer to his safety? If the prisoners escaped, he knew he would be executed -- which explains why he was about to commit suicide (v. 27). Or perhaps he had heard rumors about these two strangers who preached about an eternal salvation and the forgiveness of sins through a man called Jesus Christ.
Whatever his meaning, he was desperate. And St. Paul took advantage of the moment. "Believe in the Lord Jesus," he said, "and you and your household will be saved."
The opportunities we have to share Christ’s love and forgiveness are not usually as dramatic as this scene described in Acts 16. We do not often know what earthquakes jolt the lives of those around us. Nor do we often hear their cries for help.
But oh! That God would make us more sensitive to the needs of others and be ever ready to answer their sometimes unspoken plea, "What must I do to be saved?"
After all, if we don't tell them, who will?
And so the Church teaches: The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 850).