Although most of the Acts of the Apostles concentrates on the activities of Saints Peter and Paul, today we read a story concerning Philip, a story that has always inspired and intrigued me.
There are some details in the story that baffle me. Foremost among them is the fact that Philip came upon the Ethiopian eunuch while he was reading the Prophet Isaiah while seated in his chariot. In 21st century terms where people carry their Kindle or Nook with them wherever they go, this does not seem all that extraordinary. Yet when we remember the historical period, the fact that this man would have had a personal scroll of the Prophet Isaiah is astounding. That he would be traveling with it is even more astounding. Scrolls of the Scriptures were and are still considered sacred objects and were kept in the synagogues much the same way we reserve the Blessed Sacrament. We live in a time when the Bible is the most frequently published book in history. This event happened long before Mr. Gutenberg invented the printing press.
Of course these little details, while fascinating, have little to do with the actual message of the text; namely, the lengths to which the apostles were willing to go in order to proclaim the name of Jesus. Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch seems to indicate that what began as a Jerusalem ministry was moving beyond the confines of that city to the surrounding countryside. Before long, the apostles would be reaching into the entire world as it was known at that time.
The word "apostle" means "one who is sent." The Acts of the Apostles bears witness to the fact that all of us are sent to proclaim the Good News. Most of us do that through the example of our lives. What message are we proclaiming today? The social media sites are filled at this time with stories of what people did to assist those who were hurt in Boston's tragic bombing. These people are demonstrating, perhaps unknowingly, just how much the dying and rising of Jesus has influenced our day to day behavior. It goes without saying but should be said that Christ was and is alive in Boston and wherever folks are helping one another.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.