The epistle reading for today is told with a funny twist by Saint Luke. The story starts out seriously enough. Herod Antipas begins to persecute the Church. Saint James is taken captive and killed. Then Peter is taken captive. But an angel of the Lord comes and frees Saint Peter. The story is found in Acts, chapter 12. But, it is at this time that the story takes a humorous turn, according to Saint Luke.
Peter went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran and told that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are mad.” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking; and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell this to James and to the brethren.” Then he departed and went to another place.
So, here is Saint Peter, having been freed by an angel. And, he goes to a house that he knows its safe. In the previous paragraph, we have been told how the believers were praying fervently for Saint Peter’s release. Now, we are told that Rhoda is so excited that, instead of taking in the fugitive, she leaves him standing at the door while she goes to tell everyone who is at the door. Worse, then the people inside get into an argument as to whether Saint Peter is really standing out there. Some apparently believe that it is either his angel or his ghost. Meantime, Saint Peter is still standing outside waiting and waiting and waiting and knocking and knocking and knocking. Anytime, a Roman patrol or a Jewish patrol could come by. At any time he could be taken again. Meantime, the believers are all safely inside still arguing about who is outside.
Eventually, someone gets the bright idea to quit arguing theoretics and to actually go outside and do a bit of empirical experimentation. Hey, maybe we can figure out who is out there by simply going to take a look! So, they all go look, and it is obvious that they begin to make a lot of noise. How do I know? Well, it says that Saint Peter motioned, “to them with his hand to be silent.” In other words, he was making hand signals to KEEP IT DOWN PLEASE. Finally, they let him explain what happened.
Can you see the tremendous humor of the situation? I think the humor continues to the very end. Having told the story, he says to pass the story on to, “James and to the brethren.” Then he promptly leaves the house to go to another hiding place. I cannot say that I blame him. I think that he probably felt that this was not the safest house in which to stay. He appears to have concluded that this safe house was not really safe for people who are trying to be secretive and not draw attention to themselves.
So, yes, I think that in more than one place in his writings, Saint Luke throws in some small bits of humor.