Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
John 21:20-25


I think there is nothing more damaging to our human experience than spite and malice. To face the difficulties of life, as we all do, is one thing. But for others to deliberately cut us down, is another. To lie about us, to deliberately put roadblocks in our way, to damage us at every turn they find, is another thing completely. And it is evil.  Very few things do more damage to us than malice and spite and evil.

In today’s first reading, we hear of the ongoing and continuing malice of the Jewish leaders towards Paul. They stop at no turn, and despite their failures, they ramp up the destruction.

Its said we remember three things when people try to destroy us. Who tried to hurt us? Who ignored us when we were hurt? And who stood firm with us when we were hurt.

Sometimes in the fog of life, in those moments of pain, a shimmer of light shines through.

There is a great scene in The West Wing. The character, Leo McGarry, tells it thus:

This guy’s walkin’ down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you! Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and moves on.

Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole; can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

Then a friend walks by. “Hey, Joe, it’s me. Can ya help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are ya stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before. And I know the way out.

Peter Gardiner is a Passionist priest, living in Sydney. He is mostly involved in Outreach work, and teaching English.