During the Easter Season we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This is the story of the Church from the very beginning. This book shows the joys and excitement of those working to build the Church which Jesus established. It also shows the struggles they faced; opposition from the Jews and the Romans, physical violence and persecution against these Christians, flight from danger, and the success of those bringing the Good News, the Gospel, to the world. These were incredible times. It is an amazing story that should be shared with those who think that we have it tough.
We can see the Holy Spirit at work in this new Church, inspiring and strengthening the Apostles and others who have taken up the work of spreading the Gospel. Today’s reading tells of Philip’s journey to Samaria after the persecution began in Jerusalem. The people of Samaria paid attention to what Philip said and the works he performed. It is obvious the Holy Spirit was at work in Philip, and in the people of Samaria.
We must ask; why do we not hear similar stories in our day? Why aren’t people open to the truth of the Gospel today, causing mass conversions to take place. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that question. Perhaps in some areas of the world, Catholic missionaries find those open to conversion. Gabe Hurrish, a local man who is serving as a missionary in South Sudan, sends emails occasionally informing us of what his life is like. South Sudan has seen civil war and unrest for many years, yet Gabe encounters people filled with joy in spite of the hardships they face. Gabe’s stories of these people give me hope that the Gospel still has power to change hearts and minds. I am happy that Gabe has given so much of his life to serve others and seems at peace among the people he serves. Gabe gives an example of faith at work; a faith willing to risk everything to bring God to others. It is a beautiful thing. His missionary work resembles Philip’s actions.
So why don’t we see such hunger for the Gospel here? Is it that we are too distracted by the noise of our world; the media, emails, internet, etc., to focus on God’s word? I pray that we will open our hearts and minds to what God offers each of us and accept this great gift. Please join me in this prayer and try to live like Philip, attracting others to the faith through our words and actions.