Acts 8:1b-8
John 6:35-40


Missiologists Stephen Bevans and Roger Schroder contend that the Acts of the Apostles shows us that the Church only becomes the Church when it accepts its mission not just to Judaism but to all peoples, “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1.8). Today’s first reading is a bridge between the mission to Jews and the fuller mission to the Gentile world. It reminds us that the Church’s mission must ‘proclaim the Christ’ in each new context in which it finds itself. Acts chapter 8 introduces the ministry of Philip in Samaria, which he will extend outside Judaism to the Ethiopian official (tomorrow’s reading). There was deep hostility between Jews and Samaritans. Samaritans were outsiders, at best ‘half-Jews’, because their faith and identity had been corrupted by the mixture of their Jewish ancestry with foreigners. Philip shows great initiative and courage to respond to the context and assume this successful mission to the Samaritans. The passage has a great lesson for the Christian community today as we interact with others whose experience is different to ours. We must connect with the context while remaining constant in our personal witness to the Reign of God.

We should also take notice of today’s gospel as a source for our motivation. As Jesus said, he came “not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me”. In Jesus’ case, the mission is from the Father. In Philip’s case and ours, we continue Jesus’ mission by interacting with those who share our faith and those who do not, in the hope that all might “believe in him and have eternal life”.

John McGrath is a parishioner of St Brigid’s Marrickville.