By Michael Fitzpatrick
A Reading from Acts 9:32-43
32 Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. 34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37 At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
As our global pandemic rolls on and new virus variants appear, the specter of those we love taking sick and dying is ever present in our lives. We know just as the early disciples that even those who are always doing good and helping the poor are not protected by their good works from the chance tragedies that beset human life.
Can we see the possibility of resurrection when surrounded with so much death? Tabitha’s friends called on the apostles of Jesus to come to her aid, even though her body had already been presented for mourning. Trusting in the one who had raised Jesus from the dead, they trusted that the same Father of all was at work in the disciples and could restore Tabitha to life. Yet it’s important to notice the import of these healing stories. The response to both Aeneas and Tabitha being healed is that people might see the goodness and power of God and believe. The people believed in the Lord.
Miracles happen not simply to right wrongs or undo tragedy. They serve as pointers to the living God, that through them we might see the love of God in the face of Jesus, and live for the one who even raises the dead.
Michael Fitzpatrick is a doctoral student in philosophy at Stanford University. He attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, Calif., where he serves as a lay preacher and teacher.
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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Cork, Cloyne & Ross (Church of Ireland)
Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Irving, Texas