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As Close As Ever

First Reading: Acts 8:26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip,
“Get up and head south on the road
that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.”
So he got up and set out.
Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch,
a court official of the Candace,
that is, the queen of the Ethiopians,
in charge of her entire treasury,
who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home.
Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
The Spirit said to Philip,
“Go and join up with that chariot.”
Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said,
“Do you understand what you are reading?”
He replied,
“How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.
This was the Scripture passage he was reading:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who will tell of his posterity?
For his life is taken from the earth.

Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply,
“I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this?
About himself, or about someone else?”
Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage,
he proclaimed Jesus to him.
As they traveled along the road
they came to some water,
and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water.
What is to prevent my being baptized?”
Then he ordered the chariot to stop,
and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water,
and he baptized him.
When they came out of the water,
the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away,
and the eunuch saw him no more,
but continued on his way rejoicing.
Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news
to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 66:8-9, 16-17, 20

R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Bless our God, you peoples,
loudly sound his praise;
He has given life to our souls,
and has not let our feet slip.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
When I appealed to him in words,
praise was on the tip of my tongue.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Gospel: John 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowds:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:

They shall all be taught by God.

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my Flesh for the life of the world.”

NAB

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I think we can trick ourselves into thinking that salvation is simply too hard to grasp. That because holiness is a life-long pursuit, the love of God or His love for us is somehow out of reach or unattainable.

In the First Reading we encounter the eunuch, who then encounters Saint Philip, who teaches him about Jesus. Totally overwhelmed with the fervor of belief, he jumps into a puddle, and is baptized. And Saint John reiterates this availability of Love to us in the Gospel—the Bread of Life is here, He is here to feed us and to save us. He is available for the taking if only we take, if only we jump in that same sacred puddle.

Freely He gave, remember?

Let’s spend some time with this on our minds today. Particularly at Holy Mass, if you have the opportunity to go. There He is, the Bread of Life, there for taking. Closeness to the Lord is always in reach. It’s not far off. The puddle of mercy is just right here, on the side of the road, next to your bed, in the kitchen, at the market. I want to jump with the faith of the eunuch. Over and over. Don’t you?

Another thought—how can we bring this same hope to the people God has entrusted to us to serve? Just like Saint Philip brought Jesus to the eunuch, we have people in our midst in need of Jesus, too. Maybe it’s not a literal conversion they need but a new resolve to live in faith, hope, and love. Maybe what they are searching for is a reminder that Christ is still as close as He always was, that the puddle of His mercy is just right there. Still.

Be the guide to Christ to those around you. Show them faith, hope, and love.

photo credit

Blythe Fike is the wife of Kirby and mother of 6 smallish kids. She loves the quiet life in small town SoCal. You can find out more about her here.

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