Sixth Sunday of Easter May 29, 2011
The Holy Spirit seeks to draws us into the unfolding story of salvation history. It is a Spirit of unity and evangelization as the feast of Pentecost draws near. We hear the voices of the early Christians, a Deacon, the Apostles, Peter himself and as always Jesus Christ who is always in unity with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each voice calls us to venture out and evangelize the world.
Artificial Barriers and Stumbling Blocks for the Spirit of Truth:
Are we ready? We are confronted by a world unable and unwilling to recognize let alone encounter the spirit of truth. As such the world creates artificial boundaries and stumbling blocks for us. So whose job is it? It’s the pope’s job! It’s the Bishop or priest’s job! No it’s the deacon’s job! Well it’s not my job? Escape artists are we!
3 in 1
We know the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. The Commandments come from one, the Word Incarnate comes from another, while the spirit of the advocate comes from another. Today’s scriptures teach, while each may appear to move independently the Trinity always moves and works in harmony and unity of purpose.
World View Contaminates:
It is our worldly view that contaminates and prevents us from seeing the fullness of the truth.
Acts Chapter 8: 1. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
What a mess – what a mess! And This where we start!
Before we can take a breath, Steven, one of the seven is out preaching the good news in the street for which he is stoned to death. There standing in the crowd is Paul watching on. Remember Paul is still hard at work hunting down and persecuting Christians.
That is the back drop of today’s liturgy of the word describing the formation of the early church.
Because of this persecution, the early converts fled into Samaria. Today’s reading describes what may be the first-time advance of the gospel across the cultural threshold into Samaria.
In this story we hear of Philip! Who was Philip? Philip like Steven was one of the original seven deacons. And true to the deacons call, Philip is in a foreign world of Samaria in the middle of a spiritual encounter on behalf of the pioneering evangelization spirit of the church.
Samaritans = Syngenistic (Merging even opposed beliefs):
The Samaritans were noted for practicing sorcery and magic. They were a society steeped in occult magic and syncretistic religious practice. Syncretistic means they were willing to merge differing and even opposed beliefs systems which in truth were in conflict. Confusion about the truth was subverted not so unlike it is today,
Philip was reaching out, preaching, teaching and healing a people who had an awareness of faith and scripture but lacked a personal encounter with the spirit of truth.
The Laying of Hands / Unity of Spirit:
When the apostles heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John who prayed for them that they may receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not fallen on them yet, until the apostles laid hands on them and they received. Why was the Holy Spirit delayed?
The Holy Spirit is the advocate that unites and preserves the unity of the church while the world seeks to create human animosity between Jew and Samaritan. The unfolding story of God’s plan reveals the apostles came to unify peoples, converts on both sides of the cultural barrier. The fullness of Holy Spirit seeks to open and reveal Christ through the process of people finding each other. Samaritans and Jewish Christians were assured that the Samaritans were truly regenerate and the spiritual equals of regenerate Jews.
The symbol of the unity of the Church through the Holy Spirit is revealed through the laying on of hands. So how does this effect me? Listen to 1 Peter again! Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for hope! Do it with gentleness and reverence keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct may themselves be put to shame.
Yep each one is called to Go into the world and proclaim the Good News.