Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily
Homily for the 3rd Week of Easter, Thursday, 5-5-22, Year C
Readings: Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 66:8-9, 16-17, 20, Gospel Jn 6:44-51
Theme: Spreading God’s Word
For many of us, we find it hard to evangelize Jesus and His teaching to others. Can you imagine walking down the sidewalk and all of a sudden feeling a strong urge to say something to the person in the car pulling up to the intersection next to you? You lean in the open window and ask the man listening to a podcast on the Old Testament, “Do you understand what you are listening to?” He would probably be startled and then quickly roll the window up completely ignoring the fact you were even standing there.
Well, that is exactly what Phillip did with the Ethiopian eunuch in the chariot. Of all people to just come up to, the Holy Spirit picked the one person, a pagan, who is farthest away from any knowledge or practice of Judaism or Christianity for Phillip to meet. The eunuch most likely came to Jerusalem to experience Jewish worship. For Phillip to address this particular person, was an obvious movement by the Holy Spirit to begin the command of Jesus at His ascension where He proclaimed to the disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20). After this encounter, Phillip then went on to other gentile towns to continue this mission.
Even before Saul was converted and became Paul, the greatest evangelizer to the gentiles, Phillip and the other apostles were beginning the mission to bring Jesus to those who were not Jewish. With this sign of Phillip baptizing the eunuch into Christianity, the command of Jesus was started. It was not really until after Jesus’ resurrection that the apostles really grasped the fact that Jesus and His teaching were not just for the Jews, but for all peoples. The saving gift of the remission of sin and strengthening by the Holy Spirit was meant for all people, no matter what their current faith, state in life, or belief was. All are called. Phillip understood this after his encounter with the eunuch.
Jesus quotes Isaiah in John’s Gospel, “They shall all be taught by God” (Is 54:13). Jesus does not change Isaiah’s quote to say, “Some will be taught by God.” Isaiah’s passage prefigures the bread of life discourse we read in John’s Gospel today. They all shall be taught by Jesus. And Jesus Christ tells them that He is the bread of life and that this bread is eternal for those who believe, unlike the manna in the desert which only provided bodily nourishment for their earthly journey.
All people are drawn by God to His Son Jesus. We just need to help point others we meet to Jesus, so they understand this calling. Do not be afraid to reach out to someone who may not understand or even know who God and Christ are. Fulfill Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.