SUNDAY, SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER
Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17; Ps 66:1-7,16,20; 1 Pt 3: 15-18; Jn 14: 15-21
LESSONS FROM THE SAMARITAN PENTECOST
The Church is intensely preparing for the Feast of Pentecost. We have just fifteen days to go. In the gospel of the day, we hear Jesus promising the Holy Spirit to the disciples. In the first reading, we have an amazing story of the Samaritan Pentecost. Here we wish to meditate on four lessons from the first reading.
The Lesson of Universality of Christianity: Today’s reading from the book of Acts is also known as the passage of “Samaritan Pentecost.” Initially, Christianity was limited to Jewish converts. But God makes no distinction between the people. “For God does not show favouritism” (Rom 2:11). The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). All who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12). In fact, the Samaritan Pentecost was a revolutionary event like the Gentile Pentecost which took place in the house of Cornelius (cf. Acts 10). The Holy Spirit gives us the charism of reaching out to the people who are in darkness about their salvation in Jesus Christ. The invitation of the Spirit is to take every action to reach out to everyone with the Gospel. Any attitude that prevents evangelization is the result of the working of the evil spirit.
The Lesson of Transforming Problems into Possibilities: The disciples of Jesus Christ were rejected by the Jewish community and they were persecuted and Stephan was martyred. The believers were compelled to flee their homes on account of their faith in Jesus Christ. Then comes the twist. The scattered disciples started preaching the Gospel to the communities where they fled. They did not hide their lamp under the bushel. They shone like the city built upon the high mountains (Mt 5:14-16). They preached the Gospel and healed the sick and cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Thus, persecution opened doors of evangelization, and the problem of persecution became a possibility for evangelization.
Through our present problems God can open many doors of progress both personal and ecclesiastical. God makes everything good for those who love him and those who are called in his name (Rom 8:28). Peter wrote: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Pet 4:12). Goliath was a problem. With the power of the Lord, David transformed that problem into an opportunity to take upon the leadership of his nation. We need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to explore the great treasures hidden in troubles and turmoil. “Therefore we do not need to lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4: 16-17). God fulfils his promises: Jesus promised the disciples: “I will not live you orphans; I will come to you.” (Jn 14:18). Don’t quit your vocation to live for Jesus when there is an apparent crisis.
The Lesson on Transforming a Mournful Situation into a Joyful Situation: “For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:7-8). This joy was the result of Philip’s goodwill to preach the gospel, the goodwill of the people to receive the gospel, and thirdly the result of God’s goodwill to work miracles. “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the sign that accompanied it” (Mk 16:20).
The Lesson of Mutual Collaboration of the Leaders: When the apostles heard about what was happening in Samaria through the ministry of Philip they were extremely happy and Peter and John came to Samaria to extend their support to Philip and encourage the new community. Spirit-filled people appreciate and support one another.
Response: Cry out with joy to God, all the earth.
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