The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #1847), quoting St. Augustine affirms: “‘God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us.’ To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults. ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’”
Following the truth of the antecedent, we come to understand clearly the passage of our today’s First Reading (cf. Acts. 8:26-40), concerning the meeting of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Here, we see how the eunuch made efforts to be saved by the waters of baptism; by first journeying to Jerusalem for pilgrimage, and secondly by reading the Scriptures. Notice that after listening to the Good News from Philip, the eunuch made a further effort by demanding for baptism, saying: ‘Look, there is some water here; is there anything to stop me being baptized?’
It can be said that the experience of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in the first reading reflects the teaching of Christ on the Eucharist in today’s Gospel (cf. Jn. 6:44-51). Here, Jesus says: “‘No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets: they will all be taught by God, and to hear the teaching of the Father, and learn from it, is to come to me.” Undoubtedly, the eunuch was drawn by the Father to know Christ through Philip, with his corresponding cooperation by going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, reading the Scriptures, being taught by God through Philip, and demanding for baptism from Philip.
A synthesis of the first and gospel readings brings to limelight three important elements, viz: the Word, Baptism, and the Eucharist. As baptized Christians, it is when we grow in the Word of God that we come to a fuller understanding and union with Christ in the Eucharist. Put differently, as baptized Christians, the Father draws us daily to Christ by hearing his Word and receiving the “Bread of life” (Holy Eucharist) – the flesh of Christ given for the life of the world.
Dear friends in Christ, the Church calls us today to continually grow and be drawn to Christ by God through our collaboration in hearing the Word of God and receiving the Sacraments. This is what the world needs at this critical time, a time of great famine of the spiritual food: The Word of God and the Sacraments; so that at the end, the earth would ‘cry out with joy to God’ as expressed in the voice of today’s Psalmist [cf. Ps. 65(66):8-9,16-17,20]: “O peoples, bless our God, let the voice of his praise resound, of the God who gave life to our souls and kept our feet from stumbling.”
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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