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.
This powerful Spirit-led encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian gives us a tried and tested roadmap for unleashing the Gospel during this season of Eucharistic revival! Here are three simple points from this Scripture passage we can implement today:
Obey the Holy Spirit: the Spirit said to Philip, “Go…”
Be open, available, and aware that the Holy Spirit always wants to lead you to bring others to Jesus. He is the principal agent of the Church’s mission (CCC 852).
Meet people where they are: Philip ran to him…
At the Ethiopian’s invitation, Philip sat with him and inquired if he understood what he was reading.
Proclaim the Gospel: then Philip opened his mouth…
Without hesitation, Philip simply answers the deepest longing of this man’s heart by sharing the “good news of Jesus.”
Last year, to coincide with the official start to the National Eucharistic Revival on Corpus Christi Sunday, my parish organized a eucharistic procession in a public park. A few hundred parishioners came together to adore our Lord and pray for the salvation of souls in our community. During eucharistic adoration, a 65-year-old man with a skateboard (whom I will call Don) sat down at the front of the crowd. As soon as I saw him, I sensed the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice urging me to go to him. I introduced myself and asked if he understood what was happening. Reeking of alcohol and, perhaps expecting me to escort him from the premises, Don responded in an angry tone, “Well, I know you came over here to tell me something, so just get it over with and say it!”
Though I had not planned on saying much, the Holy Spirit guided my response, “Actually, I have four things to say to you. First, God created you in His image and likeness because He loves you.” This provoked an onslaught of cussing and other contentious words. Once he calmed down, I continued, “But you have the same problem I do—sin. And your sin separates you from God and His love.” A volley of verbal persecution followed. Not giving up, I proclaimed the good news of Jesus to him. “Jesus came for you, died for you, and rose again for you.” Once Don finished his third rebuttal, I invited him to repent and respond to the Gospel. By the grace of God, when I asked if I could pray with him, Don was ready and willing. I gently placed my hand on his shoulder and invited the Holy Spirit to come.
A few moments later, the eucharistic procession began and I asked Don if he would like to join us. Picking up his skateboard, we began to follow Jesus Who was just as present as when He walked the streets of Jerusalem in ancient times. As we walked, I shared more about the love of God. Little by little, Don’s heart continued to soften.
Realizing he had some Bible knowledge, I asked if he remembered the story of the Last Supper. He replied that he did, so I asked if he could finish these quotes from Our Lord, “Take and eat” and “Take and drink.” As Don correctly finished each sentence about the Body and Blood of Christ, I pointed to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, now drawing near us in the procession. Don soberly asked if this was Communion. Directing Don’s gaze, I declared boldly: “That’s Him!”
In that moment, Jesus in the Eucharist passed directly in front of Don. Without any prompting from me or anyone else, he fell to his knees, faced the ground, and reached his hands out on the grass. Moments later, with his demeanor completely changed by this encounter with Jesus, Don rose from the ground wiping tears from his eyes.
When you and I obey the Holy Spirit, meet people where they are, and intentionally unleash the Gospel in the uncompromising and unconditional love of God, we will encounter true eucharistic revival! Authentic adoration of the Blessed Sacrament always leads to proclaiming the Gospel to those around us just as proclaiming the Gospel always leads us and those around us to recognize and adore Jesus in the Eucharist. In this way, unleashing the Gospel is eucharistic revival!
Holy Spirit of the Living God, please consume my heart with the blazing fire of God’s love in the Eucharist that not only transforms me but leads me to unleash the Gospel into the lives of the lost and broken.
Your brother in Christ,
Anthony Feola, Associate Director of Disciple Formation, Archdiocese of Detroit