Act 9:31-42 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!" And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 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. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 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." 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. 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. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
Luke tells us that the church “had peace and was built up”. The word peace / שָׁלוֹם / shalom means far more than the absence of violence. It expresses wholeness in body, mind and spirit. Luke then uses the stories of Aeneas and Tabitha (Dorcas) to illustrate the peace that Jesus brings.
Aeneas, bedridden with paralysis, lived in Lydda, about 40 km from Jerusalem. For eight years he had been unable to travel to the temple to make the obligatory prayers and offerings. He was not at peace, both spiritually and physically - until Peter brought the peace of Jesus that healed him in every way possible. Sixteen kilometres further on in Joppa – the ancient seaport for Jerusalem – lived Tabitha. Here was one who had brought shalom to the poor through her sewing, but now there was only death and weeping. Again, Peter brings the peace of Jesus that silences the crowds and restored Tabitha to life.
Central to this story is the link between Jesus and Shalom. The life and teaching of Jesus is all about living in peace: it is all about bringing wholeness, healing, restoration, joy and a richness to life. All who follow Jesus are committed to shalom. It is simply impossible to claim to follow Jesus while destroying peace through anger, violence and death.
Prayer for Today:Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in you.
(Words: Sebastian Temple - based on a prayer by Saint Francis)
First Sunday after Trinity31 Mercy, Justice and Love
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 197.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.