Obedience and On-the-Spot Evangelism
In today’s 1st Reading (Acts 8:26-40), we encounter Philip, one of the seven Deacons appointed to oversee and tend to the needs of the widows in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-7) who, through an angelic encounter and subsequent revelation, is brought to an Ethiopian Eunuch, a court official of the Candace. Interestingly enough, he finds the man reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah. It is at this point that Philip poses what seems to be a reasonable question.
“Do you understand what you are reading?” He asks him, to which the eunuch replies “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” As fate would have it, the passage in question was as follows:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who will tell of his posterity?
For his life is taken from the earth.”
The eunuch is clearly moved, so much so that he asks Philip to tell him more about this man. Philip goes on to talk in great detail about his friend Jesus, and as they traveled down the road the eunuch rather spontaneously asks to be baptized. So moved was this man by Philip’s account that he decided right then and there to attach his eternal fate to Jesus.
These had to be exciting albeit hectic, untamed and unpredictable times for the disciples of Jesus. Abundant opportunities for evangelization presented themselves rather randomly, and they has to be ready with their “A Game” at a moment’s notice. After all, souls were on the line and as the old adage goes, “you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.” As mentioned earlier, Philip’s role within the community wasn’t even that of an evangelist, however he was called into service; I’d say he aced the exam.
But the same goes for us today as well. Today’s Reading reminds us that these divine windows of opportunity open up in our lives and it can happen at any time and any place. We must pray for the wisdom, discernment and “spiritual instincts” to recognize them and in turn capitalize on them, bearing fruit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and what has to be our ever-growing knowledge of Scripture and the vibrancy of our loving friendship with Jesus.
The Lord calls us just as he called Philip. As we listen acutely to the Spirit, we too might be led on some very meaningful and exhilarating missions before our journey here is through. Take a moment to share a poignant Scripture verse with someone, talk about how great your church is in the locker room at your gym, invite a newcomer to Mass. these are the conversation starters, the “igniters” if you will.
Be fearless and obedient in going wherever the Spirit takes you. The opportunities are endless and the possibilities amazing.
“Heavenly Father, create within us a greater sense of obedience to your word and your will.” ~ Amen