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The Book of Acts or the Acts of the Apostles is believed to have been written by the same author as the gospel of Luke: presumably Luke – a disciple who traveled and worked with the apostle Paul. Rather than being the sequel to Luke’s gospel, recent scholarship sees Acts more as the second half of one story. This is important as it switches the resurrection of Jesus from the climax of the story to the middle point. The end of the story is thus still-to-be-composed in and through us, as we –the Church today – continue the story.
Acts tells the unfolding story of the beginning of the church, moving from the disciples following the resurrection, to the emergence of the church in Jerusalem around the Temple and then as it spread outwards towards the ends of the world of the Roman Empire. It begins with Peter and the other apostles, before switching to focus upon the work of Paul as he witnessed to the good news gospel of Jesus of Nazareth among the Gentile (or non-Jewish) peoples of the Roman Empire. While it does tell the story of the beginning of the Church – it focuses on the church that emerged from the ministry of Paul as opposed to the other branches of Christianity that emerged in Israel, Egypt, in the Middle East, and even all the way to India. Paul’s version of Christianity testified to in the Epistles (or letters to the ancient churches) has become the dominant form of Christianity.
This story of healing is the first healing done by the disciples in the book of Acts. They go to the Temple to worship: the thin place (as the Celtics call it) where heaven and earth meet. It’s at the gate entrance into this sacred space that they encounter the lame man asking for help, begging for alms. He cannot stand for himself physically or socially. He’s dependent upon others, and the chance that they might be empathetic to such a miserable sight as he amidst the splendor and majesty of the Temple. Here we see death amid life.
The Apostles embrace resurrection life, that’s to say God’s definite “NO!” to the power of death over us. They have grown from observers and listeners to active members of the body of Christ – the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. And so they act, in conformity to the will and power of God – that life would be amid death.
Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation
• What part of today’s story grabs you?
• How are we in a thin plan, a time where heaven and earth seem to allow a fuller sight of God?
• How are we called to be the hands & feet of Christ: God’s NO! to isolating death, in our world?