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The Feast Day of St. Philip, Deacon and Evangelist

October 11, 2010

Today we remember St. Philip, Deacon and Evangelist.  While not a whole terribly lot is known about Philip, what is known is inspiring.  From the 8th chapter of the Book of Acts, we know that Philip was an excellent preacher of the Gospel, drawing large crowds to eagerly hear his message.  We also know that he was endued with the healing power of God.


But my favorite story about Philip is the story of his baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch.  The Ethiopian Eunuch – someone who because of his social status might have been considered outside the purview of salvation – was reading Isaiah one day and was confused about what he was reading – it was one of the Suffering Servant passages.  Philip encountered him and helped him to understand that the scripture was about Jesus.  So encouraged and inspired by his new understanding, the Eunuch wanted to be baptized by Philip right away, and, seeing some water on the side of the road, asked if it would be sufficient.  Philip baptized him right then and there (and then disappeared but that part of the story always seemed slightly less important to me).


To me, the inspirational part of the story is that Philip wasn’t out specifically looking to help someone meet Jesus – he had just been doing that in his preaching in Samaria.  He was simply traveling and the opportunity arose.  Opportunities like this happen all the time, if we’ve the eyes to see them.  Sure, while we’re in church we might expect to meet God somehow or feel the movement of the Spirit particularly strongly, but a lot of the time where we meet God is outside these church doors, out in the world He has created and redeemed.  We have an opportunity to meet God in the face of someone who is just another traveler on the road, while we are doing something no more holy than driving along it.  May we have the grace the recognize those moments for the opportunities they are to witness to the love of Jesus Christ.  May we be strengthened and encouraged to do so by the helping of the Holy Spirit.  You just never know when you might be leading someone to God.

The Collect for St. Philip, Deacon and Evangelist

Holy God, no one is excluded from thy love; and thy truth transformeth the minds of all who seek thee: As thy servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of thy salvation and to bring the stranger to Baptism, so grant unto us all the grace to be heralds of the Gospel, proclaiming thy love in Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Fr. Ryan+

One Comment leave one →
  1. Chris Butto permalink
    October 12, 2010 9:39 am

    Growing up in South Philly, I remember St. Philip Neri parish. The community was largely African American as were the parish faithful. I looked on the internet and found that the parish still exists at 2nd and Queen Sts. just south of the Old City area. The community demographic has changed over the past fifty or sixty years but it was nice to see the church has survived. In fact, it has absorbed a neighboring parish comprised mostly of Polish Americans, St. Stanislaw Church. If you’re interested, here’s the link to the St. Philip Neri web site.


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