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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Acts 9:32–43]

AFTER the conversion of Saul, the Church enjoyed peace for a while throughout Judæa and Samaria and Galilee. Peter went about among the faithful, making a general visitation, encouraging and confirming them in the faith. During this journey he performed two great miracles.

At Lydda there was a man, named Eneas, who had kept his bed for eight years, being afflicted with palsy. Peter said to him: “Eneas, the Lord Jesus Christ healeth thee. Arise, and make thy bed!” Immediately he arose. Seeing this great miracle, all the inhabitants of Lydda were converted to the Lord.

While Peter remained at Lydda, he was sent for in haste by some of the disciples in Joppe, not far distant, because a certain holy woman, named Tabitha, had just died there.

Peter, rising quickly, went to Joppe. They brought him to an upper chamber, where Tabitha lay dead. Many poor widows stood around weeping, and showed him the garments which Tabitha had made for them. Peter was touched at the sight, and, ordering all to leave the room, he knelt down and prayed. Then, turning to the corpse, he said: “Tabitha, arise!” She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, sat up. The fame of this miracle converted very many to the Lord Jesus Christ1.

And Peter “abode many days in Joppe”, instructing those who were newly converted, and confirming them in their faith.

The meaning of “the Church”. When the disciples fled from Jerusalem on account of the persecution there, they proclaimed the Christian faith in many towns in Judæa, Galilee, and Samaria, and thus Christian communities sprang up in these towns. Now, in the story we have just been reading, it is said (Acts 9:31): “The Church had peace throughout all Judæa, and Galilee, and Samaria.” What is here meant by the word “Church”? Simply, all the Christian communities united under one Head. All Christian communities form together one great community, or communion, i. e. the Church.

The chief Pastorship of Peter. The account we have been reading shows us that St. Peter exercised a supervision over the whole Church. As chief pastor, he moved about, visiting the various churches or communities, so as to keep them in the unity of faith and practice, to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, and to appoint pastors over every flock. St. Chrysostom writes thus about St. Peter’s journeys: “Peter moved to and fro among the churches, as a general moves about in his army, to prove and see what part is weak, and what part is prepared, and to discover where his presence is most required. Everywhere do we see him moving about, and everywhere placing himself at the head.”

The object of miracles. Jesus worked these great miracles through Peter in order to show the world that He had sent Peter, and that the doctrine taught by him was divine and true. These miracles were the cause of the conversion of multitudes to the Christian faith.

The “Fear of God”, or the “Fear of the Lord” consists in this, that we fear to offend Almighty God by even one sin, because He hates and punishes sin. Fear of God proceeds from a living faith in the holiness and justice of God.

The Holy Ghost, the Comforter. The Holy Ghost consoles Christians by giving them a quiet conscience, peace of heart, joy in well-doing and patience under suffering; and by inspiring them with a confident hope of obtaining everlasting happiness.

Works of mercy. In Tabitha we come across one of the first of that great host of spouses of Christ, whose only family are His poor, and whose lives are one unbroken chain of holy practices and works of mercy (Reischl). We might justly call Tabitha the first Sister of Mercy. She was wealthy, but she did not live for the world, but loved our Lord with all her heart, and served Him in the person of His poor. She gave abundant alms and employed her time in making clothes for those in need. She devoted herself especially to the care of widows, as being the most forsaken and unprotected among the poor. To her we can apply the words of St. James (1:27): “Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

APPLICATION. A kind, generous heart like Tabitha’s is very beautiful. Look into your heart, and see whether it be selfish and self-seeking, or filled with love and compassion. Is it a pleasure to you to do good to others? Even if you are unable to give anything, still you can show kindness to the poor. You could always perform some little service for a widow, or visit the sick &c. Make a resolution not to let this day pass without performing some act of love towards your neighbour.








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