Sixth Sunday in Easter - Year A
PHILIP IN SAMARIA
Last week we saw that the apostles had ordained seven men to administer the soup kitchen in Jerusalem. The men--later known as deacons--quickly expanded their role to missionary work. One of these travels to Samaria, part of what is now the West Bank. There had been a bitter antagonism between the Jews and Samaritans, but Jesus had broken the ice. One of the deacons, Philip, capitalizes on this and begins making converts.
Philip baptizes several people. When the apostles hear the news, they dismiss Peter and John to evaluate the situation. They complete the initiation of the converts by laying hands on them administering Confirmation. We might see this as a foreshadowing of the differing roles of deacons and bishops. The former baptize, but only the latter can confirm.
I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU ORPHANS
Jesus did not want the apostles to remain dependent upon his physical presence. They would have to make their own way in the world. They had a destiny to fulfill as missionaries, spreading the faith to the world. At a certain point Christ had to cut the apron strings. As he had said to Mary Magdalene on Easter, "do not cling to me, but go and tell my brothers..." Now it was the apostles' turn to let go.
But Jesus did not abandon them. He promised to send another "Paraclete"--a legal word implying a defender, a sort of barrister. This would be the Holy Spirit who would come a little over a week later on Pentecost. Jesus gave ample warning of his departure, but the reality of this farewell did not sink in until he finally ascended into heaven.
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