Philip . . . proclaimed Jesus to him

Who was this man who met up with an Ethiopian court official and then was mysteriously “snatched. . . away” (Acts 8:39)?   Not to be confused with the apostle Philip, this Philip was one of the seven deacons appointed to oversee the distribution of food to the poor widows in the Jerusalem church (6:1-7).   After the martyrdom of Stephen, the community scattered, and Philip went to Samaria where he continued to proclaim the gospel.   His preaching was accompanied by signs and wonders, and many turned to the Lord (8:4-7).

Philip was seeing so much success, so why did God interrupt his work in Samaria to send him on this special mission?

Philip listened to the Spirit and did what he asked.

When an angel of the Lord told Philip to go south on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, he “got up and set out” (Acts 8:27).   When the Holy Spirit told Philip to join the chariot, again he obeyed immediately.

Philip knew the Scriptures.

Just as Jesus opened up the Scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), the Holy Spirit had opened up the Scriptures to Philip.   That meant he was able to help the Ethiopian see that the passage he was reading from Isaiah pointed to Jesus.

Philip was open to the new way in which God was working.

The Ethiopian court official was most likely a “God-fearer,” a Gentile who prayed to Israel’s God.   He may have been returning from worshipping at the Temple in Jerusalem when Philip caught up with him.   Despite the man’s faith, however, he was still considered an outsider.   When he asked to be baptized, Philip didn’t hesitate, and the Ethiopian man became a full-fledged member of the people of God.

Just as he chose Philip, the Lord might choose you for a special mission of some kind.   As you listen to the Spirit, he might just nudge you to talk to someone about what God has done for you.   As you read the Scriptures, he might inspire you to share a meaningful verse with a friend.   As you look for opportunities to welcome outsiders, he might ask you to greet a newcomer at Mass.   The possibilities are endless.   You just have to keep listening—and obey!

Word Among Us