A Reflection for 5th Sunday of Easter 2021


One of the bible passages set for this Sunday is from the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 8, verses 26 -40).

It’s the story of Philip being encouraged by an angel to take himself down the wilderness road that linked Jerusalem with Gaza. Obeying the command, Philip encountered an Ethiopian, an official of the queen, who had been to Jerusalem to worship and was on is way home. He was reading from the prophesy of Isaiah which refers to someone as being like a lamb being led to slaughter. Puzzled by the passage, the Ethiopian asked Philip who the writer was referring to. So, Philip took the opportunity to speak of good news about Jesus. So impressed was the Ethiopian with Philip’s proclamation that when he saw some water by the road side he asked to be baptised there and then! After this encounter, the Ethiopian went on his way and we hear no more about him – and presumably neither did Philip.

Philip obeyed his calling and took the opportunity presented to him to speak about Jesus and, in doing so, made a convert.

Philip might well have been a but miffed because the Ethiopian didn’t stay and join the church in Jerusalem but carried on his way. In the story, as a soon as the baptism was over, Philip also left the Ethiopian and went on his way, proclaiming the good news to all the towns he passed through on his way to Caesarea.

Chance encounters with Officials from the court of the queen of the Ethiopians do not come our way very often – and we certainly do not see many sitting in chariots, reading the bible. And yet we should be ready for such opportunities when / if they do occur. For we do come across people by chance (is it by chance or does God manipulate these encounters?) who are seeking, people who have dipped into the scriptures and want to know more. How do we respond? We need to be ready to share our story, our faith, our journey with others – and especially those who are seekers.

We can sometimes get a bit disheartened when our efforts don’t seem to come to fruition.

Gardeners know that when they sow seeds, sometimes they might not see the full fruits of their labours. Planting an acorn will not bring about a mature oak tree for many years – others might enjoy the fruits of our labours.

Philip didn’t see the full effects of his ministry to the Ethiopian. Perhaps he went home and spread the gospel to his kith and kin and maybe made his world a better place for all. Others benefited from Philip’s labour. Had he not bothered, had he thought, “I can’t be bothered with that fellow as we wont see him in our group again”, then the good news would not have been taken to that Ethiopian’s community.

There, I think, a lesson for us in that story. Let us read and learn from it.

Ian R