Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 17, 2020
Today, in Mercy, Philip goes down to Samaria to preach, baptize and confirm. He found a ready audience:
With one accord, the crowds
paid attention to what Philip said.
I found that sentence remarkable. Having been a teacher and presenter for over fifty years, I was thrilled whenever I encountered such an immediately enthusiastic audience. But it wasn’t always the case. Some groups, especially larger “crowds”, had to be worked into a receptive mode. It could be quite challenging.
So what made Philip’s listeners so malleable? Acts tells us that his “signs” helped. But I wondered if there might be something else?
I wondered where the Samaritan woman of “Well” fame might have been during Philip’s visitation. You remember her from John 4. She was a singular audience for Jesus, and he had to work very hard to engage her good will. But once he did, the result was stunning:
Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
…. Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him
because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything
I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged
him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because
of his words many more became believers.
So where was our “Well Woman” evangelist when Philip arrived? Hidden behind the later words of scripture, she deepened with Christ’s sacred memory. How had she continued to ignite the Word in the months since she first encountered Jesus?
As she listened to Philip on this post-Easter morning, how affirmed she must have felt for the complete faith she had given to a once-thirsty Jesus!
In our second reading, Peter enjoins us to live a faith like this holy woman, a witness transformed by the touch of Christ:
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…
We have often waited by the well of our prayer for the voice and touch of Jesus. And we have known it and cherished it.
Our readings today remind us to be like that Samaritan woman who now had her faith confirmed in the preaching of Philip —to share that faith, to witness it by our hope, to proclaim it by our merciful love.
(Look for a couple of lovely poems on Hope coming in a later post today. We could all use a few doses of hope, I think. Enjoy!)
Music: Christ Our Hope in Life and Death – Keith and Kristyn Getty