James is put to death; Peter’s miraculous escape
12 • 1 About that time King Herod decided to persecute some members of the Church. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword, 3 and when he saw how it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
This happened during the festival of the Unleavened Bread. 4 Herod had him seized and thrown into prison with four squads, each of four soldiers, to guard him. He wanted to bring him to trial before the people after the Passover feast, 5 but while Peter was kept in prison, the whole Church prayed earnestly for him.
6 On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound by a double chain, while guards kept watch at the gate of the prison.
7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there and a light shone in the prison cell. The angel tapped Peter on the side and woke him saying, “Get up quickly!” At once the chains fell from Peter’s wrists. The angel said, “Put on your belt and your sandals.” Peter did so, 8 and the angel added, “Now, put on your cloak and follow me.”
9 Peter followed him out; yet he did not realize that what was happening with the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first guard and then the second and they came to the iron door leading out to the city, which opened of itself for them. They went out and made their way down a narrow alley, when suddenly the angel left him.
11 Then Peter recovered his senses and said, “Now I know that the Lord has sent his angel and has rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from all that the Jews had in store for me.”
12 Peter then found his bearings and came to the house of Mary, the mother of John also known as Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 When he knocked at the outside door, a maid named Rhoda came to answer it. 14 On recognizing the voice of Peter she was so overcome with joy that, instead of opening the door, she ran in to announce that Peter was at the door. 15 They said to her, “You are crazy!” And as she insisted, they said, “It must be his angel.”
16 Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking and, when they finally opened the door, they were amazed to see him. 17 He motioned to them with his hand to be quiet and told them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. And he said to them, “Report this to James and to the brothers.” Then he left and went to another place.
18 At daybreak there was a great commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 Herod began a search for him and, not finding him, had the guards questioned and executed. After that, he came down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.
20 At that time Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. By general agreement they appeared before him and, after having won over Blastus, the king’s treasurer, they asked for peace, for their country was supplied with food from the territory of Herod. 21 On the appointed day Herod, clothed in royal robes, sat on his throne and addressed them. 22 So the assembled crowd shouted back, “A god is speaking, not a man!”
23 The angel of the Lord immediately struck Herod for he did not return the honor to God, and he died eaten by worms.
24 Meanwhile the word of God was increasing and spreading. 25 Barnabas and Saul carried out their mission and then came back from Jerusalem, taking with them John also called Mark.
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