The 1980's action show MacGyver featured a technical troubleshooter who was known for getting himself out of tight places with the most meager of supplies: usually just a Swiss Army knife and some household items. The angel in today's first reading could give Angus MacGyver a run for his money as he rescued Peter who was secured with double chains and imprisoned between two soldiers. The heavenly messenger instructed Peter to get up, get dressed and follow him out of prison. Peter, to his own surprise -- and that of his captors -- was set free and returned to the community of believers.
While the account in today's first reading would have made a great finale in a MacGyver episode, it teaches us a lesson at a deeper level: there is nothing we can get ourselves into that, with God's help, we cannot be led out to safety. This applies to more than prisons in Roman-occupied Judea. Perhaps we find that time and distance have created a tension in a treasured friendship and we do not know how to remedy the discomfort. Maybe we have a coworker with whom we find it more and more difficult to work each day. Sometimes we discover that we have offended a family member with whom we live and do not know how to reconcile our carelessness. There is no space too tight for God's grace. Like Peter, double-chained between two soldiers, we may feel trapped, but the Lord's grace -- if we are open to it -- can find a road out of even the tightest of places!
"So did Saint Peter vest himself in the prison, not at his own choice but at the angel's command. He puts on his girdle, then his sandals, and afterwards the rest of his garments. And the glorious S. Paul, stripped in a moment of all affections: Lord, said he, what wilt thou have me do? that is, what is it thy pleasure for me to love, now that throwing me to the ground thou hast made my own will to die? Ah! Lord, plant thy good-pleasure in the place of it, and, teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God."
St. Francis de Sales