Monday, May 4, 2020 - Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 8
We’ve come to a turning point. As Jesus was persecuted, His Church, the community which continues His mission, is persecuted. Saul (later St Paul) is singled out as a leader of the persecution. Up to now, the believers have been localized in Jerusalem. Now they are beginning to spread out. Philip goes north, to the city of Samaria, where he shares the words and mercy of Jesus and baptizes new believers. Peter and John make the trip to Samaria to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus sent the Spirit on the Church at Pentecost, the Church now takes up the work of sharing the Spirit with others (and still does; in a particular way in Confirmation).
Simon, a magician, becomes a believer but misses the point. He tries to purchase the grace of God which can never be purchased or earned. God’s gifts to us are free; our job is to accept them with gratitude and use them for God’s glory and the good of others. Simon recognizes his need to change and asks for the support of Peter’s prayers. (From the very beginning, we’ve been praying for one another.)
Next, Philip heads southeast to the Mediterranean coast and meets a royal official from Ethiopia (who was probably interested in Judaism but who hadn’t decided to join that tradition) who is reading the Scriptures (The Old Testament; the New Testament hadn’t been written yet). Philip helps the man to see Jesus present in the Scripture passage. The light bulb goes off and the man asks for Baptism. (Remembering that Acts is a sequel to Luke’s Gospel, does this story about someone travelling along the road and having the Scriptures opened up for him remind you of anything. See Luke 24, 13-27) Philip’s travels are not complete yet. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he travels north along the coast to Caesarea preaching the good news (the Gospel) along the way. The Mission continues to spread outward toward a waiting world.
Something to consider:
God sent Philip, the right person at just the right time to say just the right thing to the man in the chariot. Who has been “Philip” in your life? Just the right person, who showed up at just the right time, and said just the right thing that made a difference in your life ? Give God thanks for the gift of that person.
The man in the chariot was reading the Scriptures out loud. Have you ever tried that?
Homework: Read Chapter 9