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Acts 12:1-19: Suddenly


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Acts 12:1-19: Suddenly

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell.

Murillo: The Liberation of St. Peter

Murillo: The Liberation of St. Peter

We linger over the story of Peter’s deliverance from the prison cell where he awaited Herod’s will.  We imagine a winged warrior who goes into combat with such peaceful ease.  We wonder if we are dreaming or if God is somehow delivering us from certain condemnation and death.

Get up quickly.

We do as the apparition commands.  Half-asleep we struggle to find our balance; we tax our senses, asking for instant and accurate input.  Is this a dream?

Put on your belt and your sandals.

The voice is real yet all is strange.  There is an urgency and yet somehow we are not frightened.   We grapple for the things of the world that we know well.  They bring us comfort although we know they do not protect us in any way.

Put on your cloak and follow me.

Moving forward we convince ourselves that in a fleeting moment we will fully awaken to find ourselves in the well-known prison of our fear.  We touch familiar objects as if to reassure ourselves . . . knowing that they hold no help for us, understanding that full and lasting assurance lies only in this lovely and dreamy apparition that leads us forward.

They passed the first guard and then the second.

The light breeze ruffles against our sleep-wrinkled cheeks.  All seems real enough yet how is it that we slip so easily past the chains that fettered us so well and for so long?

They emerged and made their way down an alley.

It is true.  Freedom has been gained.  And with such slight effort!  Who would have thought the battle might be so easily won?

Suddenly the angel left him. 

And just as quickly as this powerful apparition appears it now evaporates; yet this new harmony lingers; fear does not pierce our newly-found armor.  This winged hand of God has brought us to a peaceful place with ease and grace.

Then he recovered his senses.

Fully awake, we realize that disaster has been averted.  Prayers have been answered.  The miracle has taken place.  We allow ourselves to dwell for a brief time in this new feeling of gift.  A wave of gratitude surges up from our feet and wings through our body.  Suddenly we want to fly to those we love to deliver the Lord’s message of freedom.

He went to the house and knocked on the gateway door.  A maid answered and was overjoyed.  She ran to tell the others of his deliverance.  They told her, “You are out of your mind”.

A detail from Murillo's Liberation of St. Peter

Detail: Murillo’s “Liberation of St. Peter”

Our news falls on disbelieving ears and yet we persist.

He continued to knock and when they opened the door they saw him and were astounded.

We fall into waiting arms as we announce the Good News for suddenly we fully know that what we have been told is true.

He is risen.  He saves.  He conquers all. He has returned for us. 

We are loved.  Amen.


Image from: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/bartolome-esteban-murillo/liberation-of-st-peter-1667

To read more about Peter’s Deliverance, visit the Expect Miracles page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/miracles/expect-miracles/

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