Readings: Acts 8:26-40, Ps. 66:8-9,16-17,20, John 6:44-51

“Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’ So, Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I unless someone guides me?’” (Acts 8:29-31)

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus drops a bombshell: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51). This teaching was too difficult for the crowds to understand. They had come expecting to eat bread but were told that the bread available was Jesus’ flesh. Meanwhile, by offering His flesh as bread, Jesus brings to pass Isaiah’s prophecy, which the Ethiopian eunuch was reading but couldn’t understand. Today’s readings contain some vital lessons:

1. Pray for Insight and Be Humble to Admit Your Ignorance: In the seminary, my Scriptures Professor always emphasised that the best way to read the Bible is on your knees. In other words, if you want to read the Bible, assume a prayerful posture as one begging God for light; avoid every aura of arrogance. This is because there is more to the Bible than meets the eye. Taking the printed text at face value could confuse you like the crowds in today’s Gospel passage. The Ethiopian Eunuch must have prayed for insight, and God sent Philip to him. When Philip asked if he understood his reading, the eunuch was humble enough to admit: “How can I unless someone guides me?” This story teaches us that the Bible alone is not enough. The Bible is just one leg of a tripod; the other two are Sacred Tradition (which existed before the compilation of the Bible) and The Magisterium (the church’s teaching authority). The Bible contains God’s word, yet without the other legs of the tripod, we cannot fully benefit from it.  

2. Be Kind to Strangers: The story of the Ethiopian Eunuch also teaches us that the events of our life are not always by coincidence. As the saying goes: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” God sees our hearts; He knows when we are ready for Him. James says: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8). Just as He sent Philip to the Eunuch, God sends angels our way. This is why we must be careful to heed the warning in the Book of Hebrews: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2). The fact that you are highly placed in the society does not give you a right to look down (or maltreat) on people. You can never tell who God may have sent to answer the burning questions in your heart.

3. Listen to the Holy Spirit and Obey His Promptings: Just as God spoke to Philip, God still speaks today. We must develop the habit of spending quiet time praying with God to hear His voice. In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God instructed Elijah to stand on the mountain. A strong wind broke the rocks, a violent earthquake, and a fire, but God was not in any of these but in the “still small voice.” This passage emphasises the need to create an environment of silence to hear God. On the other hand, we must be willing to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As much as God has plans for our lives (Cf. Jeremiah 29:11), we can alter these plans if we refuse to heed His call.

4. No Preacher Can Claim Credit For Success: Philip’s encounter with the Eunuch successfully led to his conversion and subsequent baptism. This success did not come from Philip’s eloquence, holiness, knowledge, teaching skills, ability to work miracles or respectful behaviour. God alone deserves all the glory because He prepared the heart of the Eunuch to receive His Word. Jesus explains this in today’s Gospel passage: “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” (John 6:44). The preacher is only an instrument in God’s hands. Avoid idolising the instrument and focus on God. Over time, the church has been blessed with powerful instruments whose stories continue to inspire. Some could bi-locate (be in two places simultaneously), some could appear and disappear like Philip, some died, and their bodies have refused to decay, and the list is endless—all these points to the greatness of God, not the instruments.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, send good people my way daily that I may grow in Spirit. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Thursday of the 3rd week of Eastertide. Bible Study: Acts 8:26-40, Ps. 66:8-9,16-17,20, John 6:44-51).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu