Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
Philip baptizes the eunuch
Then the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road … from Jerusalem to Gaza ….” So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch … who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home. Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. This was the scripture passage he was reading: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter …” Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? …” Then Philip …beginning with this scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” …Philip …baptized him, and the eunuch …continued on his way rejoicing. Acts 8,26-39
The secret soul of this nice scene is the Holy Spirit, who, first by sending an angel and then directly, suggests to Philip to travel on the road to Gaza, to reach the eunuch’s car and ask him the first icebreaker question: “Do you understand what you are reading?”. Then the Holy Spirit lights the fire of the Gospel announcement in Philip, arouses in the eunuch the desire to be baptized, descends upon him in baptism, and from a man full of doubts, makes him a filled with joy and certainty. We ask ourselves: “Who are these angels who come, give council, and are gone, turning a dull and gray day into a wonderful adventure?”. And again: “How could the Holy Spirit suggest to Philip to reach that cart?”. The one and only answer is: we must believe in the reality of angels and the Holy Spirit, so that we can realize when they are present our lives. It may happen that the Holy Spirit kindles in us a feeling, a thought, an intuition; or else, that he shows himself present through the voice of someone close to us. He may choose any way, but those who believe in the reality of the Holy Ghost can instantly recognize him, so do not be surprised if Luke writes in his Gospel: “Then said the [Holy] Spirit to Philip.” Otherwise, as at the beginning of today’s reading, it happens that Holy Spirit sends an angel, who can be a well-known person as well as one we meet for the first time, who says a sentence which enlightens us as if he were speaking to us directly. This way of communication by the Holy Spirit may seem a little mysterious, but we already live in the mystery. However, if we know the voices, it is a mystery a talking mystery.