April 22, 2021
Each day, I reflect upon a word or phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.
Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. (Acts 8:35)
PROCLAIM JESUS: Philip came alongside a carriage and saw a eunuch struggling to understand scripture. He could have ignored it – it can be uncomfortable to proclaim Jesus. But he accepted the invitation to climb into the carriage. He not only shared his knowledge of scripture, but ultimately ended up baptizing the eunuch.
It is not surprising that Philip proclaimed Jesus to the eunuch. It was Philip who had approached Jesus prior to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. He said to Jesus, “These people are hungry and need to be fed.” To which Jesus responded, “Feed them yourself.”
Philip understood. He knew Jesus meant to nourish others as needed, to feed them spiritually – to “open the tabernacle” whenever someone needed to be fed.
If you are like me, an introvert at heart, you likely find this role challenging. Here are a few examples of my own efforts to proclaim Jesus.
I was on a plane, hoping no one would sit next to me, and if someone did sit next to me, hoping he or she would not talk to me. I was reading a book, which happened to be one about the importance of the Eucharist. Someone did sit next to me, and sure enough, he asked me about the book.
I could have given a quick answer and returned to my reading. However, I sensed something in the question, so I opened the tabernacle. We had a two-hour long conversation about our faith lives, our beliefs, and the role of Jesus Christ in our lives. Although we were of different faith traditions, it was a beautiful conversation. Each of us discovered we had more in common with one another than we had differences when it came to faith.
One of the first times I worked with the homeless, a disheveled cocaine addict approached me and extended his filthy, gnarled hands toward me and asked me to pray for him. I wanted to run – this was SOOOO far our of my comfort zone. But I sensed a need and opened the tabernacle. I held his hands and prayed for him, then cried as he prayed for me.
After Mass one Sunday, a woman gave me a hug of greeting. I sensed something in the hug; something was bothering her. I could have, and probably often have in the course of my life, disregarded it and moved on. Instead, I opened the tabernacle. I asked her if she was OK. She said, “No” and we went and sat for nearly an hour. She had lost her job and her marriage was a mess. I spent time with her, listened to her, and prayed for her.
None of these examples are unique to me. I am sure they happen to you, too. The question is, how do you respond?
Do you disregard the signs when you see someone in need? Do you simply hope someone else will come along to help? Do you avoid the situation altogether?
Opportunities to proclaim Jesus are put before us regularly – not only in chance encounters with strangers, but in our interactions with family, friends, and co-workers. To live out the gospel, to feed them ourselves, we must embrace those opportunities.
Jesus wants us to open the tabernacle.