Did you know that many saints in the early Church raised people from the dead?
According to tradition, after Jesus’ resurrection God allowed many other people to rise from the grave.
The Catholic Church believes that Jesus’ resurrection is a foreshadowing of what will happen at the end of time, when all people will be raised from the dead. Yet, even during in Jesus’ life, God allowed certain individuals to rise from the grave and live for a while longer on this earth.
In the Acts of the Apostles, a Christian woman named Tabitha died in the city of Joppa. The Christians in the city knew St. Peter was nearby and sent for him, and he hurried to the side of Tabitha. All were mourning over her death, but when Peter arrived he asked everyone to wait outside the house.
Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, rise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. (Acts 9:40-42)
The resurrection of Tabitha was a miraculous gift from God that led many others to belief in the power of Jesus Christ.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the last time a saint invoked the power of God to resurrect an individual.
According to St. Irenaeus in the early 2nd century, “Some persons that were dead have been raised again and have continued among us many years.” He further added later, speaking against magicians who falsely claimed their ability to raise from the dead, “So far are they from raising the dead, as Our Lord raised them, and as the Apostles did by prayer, and as in the brotherhood oftentimes is done, when the whole church of the place hath begged it with much fasting and prayer, and the spirit of the dead man hath returned and the man hath been given back to the prayers of the saints” (Saints Who Raised the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles).
There are additional reports of resurrections in the 4th and 5th century, as related by Church historians of that time period. (As a note, these people did experience a second “death,” as these resurrections were only “earthly” and temporary and not the full “heavenly” resurrection that God promised will happen when this world passes away.)
For example, St. Marcarius, a holy monk living in the deserts of Egypt, encountered a man who didn’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus. In order to convince him, the saint invoked God’s power over a dead man and he was raised back to life. This miracle was spread throughout the Egyptian desert.
While some may be wary of believing these early accounts of resurrection, the Acts of the Apostles is the most reliable evidence that reveals an ability to call upon God’s power to resurrect an individual, bringing them from death to life. It certainly is not a common occurrence in the history of Christianity, nor is it something that can easily be invoked by any Christian.
Similar to all miracles, it is a gift given through the power of God for a specific purpose, through the hands of a humble instrument. God wanted to remind his people that the resurrection of Jesus wasn’t just a “fluke,” but a real event that will occur to all people at the end of time.
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