No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day
The word “evangelization” has acquired something of a bad name lately. It conjures up pictures of wild-eyed ranting or threats of hellfire, of earnest young people ringing the doorbell and offering pamphlets, or maybe just of mildly pushy questions like, “Do you know Jesus personally?” It implies threats, bad news, and maybe even a little rudeness. How can this be? Evangelization is supposed to be the spreading of good news. So how do we share the gospel with enthusiasm and zeal, minus the negative aspects?
This reading gives a good practical example. First, Philip followed God’s leading. Fleeing the persecution in Jerusalem brought on by Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 8:3-4), Philip ended up in the northern region of Samaria. He talked about the Messiah there, and he prayed with people for healing and deliverance. Great joy resulted as demonstrations of God’s power backed up his words. Next, Philip headed back to Jerusalem, only to sense that God was sending him away again, this time to the south. Not to a specific place, mind you, just “south.” So Philip went. Along the way, he met a chariot and heard the Holy Spirit tell him to catch up to it, and so he did. All of this is without actually knowing what God had in mind. He just followed and obeyed.
That’s when the opportunity for evangelism played out. Philip didn’t have to shout or rant or even interrupt. The fellow in the chariot received the good news readily because Philip presented it in a way that he needed to hear it. Philip had made himself available and willing, and the opportunity opened up. Note that Philip didn’t “go after” everyone he met. Instead, he listened to the Holy Spirit. And directed by God, he responded.
We come across people all the time-at work, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, on buses, and subways. But that doesn’t mean we should try to evangelize all of them. As Philip shows us, we will be more effective if we try our best to stay open to the Spirit and then act in faith whenever we sense his promptings stirring something inside of us. “Holy Spirit, teach me how to hear your voice and recognize your promptings. I want to be an effective, useful instrument for the gospel.” [Victor Jonosewojo]
Psalm 66:8-9,16-17,20; John 6:44-51 Reading 1
Acts 8:26-40 The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.” So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury, 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, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth. Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth and, 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?” Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him.
When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing. Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Gospel Jn 6:44-51
Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”