As we continue through this most wonderful season of Easter - this ALLELUIA! season - the catholic Church continues to feed us with very powerful readings. The first readings through most of Easter, is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, also called the Book of the Holy Spirit. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read very powerful accounts of the movement of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to send to us on His ascension into Heaven.
In today's first reading, Peter who was the first Pope of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, continues to be totally filled and consumed by the Holy Spirit, and as such, he acts with authority and total confidence - not in himself but in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, "Tabitha, get up." (Acts 9: 40) Peter acted in this manner - with total confidence - not because of anything he possessed, not because of any ability he had; but rather because of his belief and his faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Is is in this name that Peter so boldly preached such powerful sermons that converted people by the thousands.
Peter's faith, his belief, his confidence in the risen Lord Jesus Christ comes out very clearly during his encounter with Aeneas, who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus heals you: get up and fold up your sleeping mat." The Word of God tells us that "Aeneas got up immediately and everybody who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they were converted to the Lord" (Acts 9: 32 - 35).
A couple points to note here - Peter spoke and acted with total authority, making the Risen Lord Jesus Christ the main subject of his ministry. Peter did not say "be healed". He did not say "I heal you in the name ...." From all accounts, he did not even touch the man. Peter identified very clearly who was the source of healing - the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result of this miracle, conversion took place - hearts were turned to God; hearts that weren't seeking Him before sought after Him as a result of this miracle.
The drama of today's first reading continues at a different place called Jaffa. There lived a woman called Tabitha whose life was consumed with doing good and giving charity and she was loved by her community. Tabitha got ill and she died, and the people in the community laid her body in a room upstairs after washing her. These people knew all about Peter and the work that God had been doing through him. And so since Jaffa was not far from where Peter was, they sent for him. Again, it is very interesting what the Word of God says. It says, "... the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, 'Please come to us without delay." There are no details of why they wanted him to visit. Just a general urgent request.
Peter got up and he went with them and when they got to Jaffa, they took him to the room upstairs where all the widows came to him weeping and showing him the tunics and cloaks that Tabitha had made while she was with them. Then Peter did something that may not have been expected; he did not fulfil their expectation there and then. Rather, he sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, "Tabitha, rise up." She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive.
Why did he send them out? Many times we rush to God with situations that confront us, asking Him, telling Him, sometimes demanding of Him that what we want be done. Maybe what we require is quite noble. You see, Peter was well aware that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good, (Romans 8: 28). And so he was seeking to commune with God To find our from Him what His plans were for this his servant Tabitha and for those who loved her so dearly. Peter wanted his actions to be one with the will of God.
This episode of God's healing, of His mercy, of His outpouring of grace, tells us how we should pray and intercede for situations that affect our lives and the lives of those around us. It tells us that we, like Peter, should first seek an audience with God so that He can speak to our hearts about all that concerns us, and in so doing, He will show us how to pray about them and what to do.
Father God in Heaven, we give you praise and thanks for your Living Word. We thank you and we praise you for this most wonderful season of Easter; a season so filled with joy and Alleluias. Help us Lord, through your grace poured out in us, to always seek you and your perfect will for us and all that affects us in any way. May we seek your Face and your perfect will in all that we say and do. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. AMEN
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