The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts 12:1-5, the Christians undergo another round of persecution at the hands of the Jews. For some time the had relative peace. However, now, Herod has James arrested and executed. He then has Peter arrested and put under guard. Luke seems to think Herod has some plan, “to show him to the people” (Acts 12:4b, personal translation). It isn’t clear whether Herod intended to show Peter off alive or dead, to release him after a severe flogging, or what other plans he may have had. However, we don’t want to understimate the severity of the situation. Prayers were being offered constantly for Peter. Without divine intervention, the other Christians expected him to be killed, like James was.
We still live in a world where people are taken captive, imprisoned, enslaved, and even killed for their Christian faith. In those parts of the world there is a reality to the spiritual life which the rest of us can’t readily understand. If the Lord doesn’t rescue our friends, our family members, our community leaders, we may not ever see them again. What’s more, we could be next.
In Acts 12, the persecution was in response to the Christians’ insistence on Jesus as the only redeemer, and as the one who rose from the dead. There was no backlash against criminal activity, hostility, political upheaval, or anything of that nature. The Christians were healing the sick, giving to the poor, and proclaiming a message of hope.
Our world is unable to understand the hope of the Christian. Yet that is the message of the Church. We have nothing else. Apparently the message of the cross is sufficient to get attention. May we be wise when confronted with the attention which could be fatal.
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