Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for me.
I cried aloud to him,
and he was extolled with my tongue.
Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.
No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Is God someone you read about or someone you talk to? Is he someone you feel like you know things about, or somebody who knows you? Are the scriptures something you read about people who lived a long time ago? Or are they the voice of God with a message just for you today?
The eunuch in today’s first reading was grappling with the same questions. Like every soul, he longed for God. So he worshipped at Jerusalem; he read the scriptures. He read books written by and about men who lived a long time before him, writing about things the eunuch did not understand, but he read them faithfully. He is like any of us who might attend church in search of something, uncertain why we worship the way we worship, and without understanding of the Word of God.
But then there is the beautiful moment when Philip tells the eunuch about Jesus, and God goes from being someone he reads about to being someone he knows. The readings go from being about men who lived a long time ago to being about our God who is alive today. When he asks to be baptized, God goes from being someone he merely talks about to being someone he is united with. When Jesus says in the Gospel, “And they shall all be taught by God,” this is what he means. He means the difference between an ancient and dead ritual is a living God.
Today, these readings are as relevant to us as they were to the eunuch in the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus is just as alive today as he was at that time, and we are called to be united with him just as much as those who lived during the days of the early church. We are called to come to know God in a deeper way everyday, and the beginning of that understanding is simply acknowledging God as the one, true, and living God. For when we acknowledge God as our Lord, we can all be taught by God. May God give us all the grace to draw closer to him today, to talk to him, to hear his voice, and to be taught by him. Amen.