April 26, 2012 - Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

Today's Readings

This experience of Philip is the most ideal example of evangelization ever. Let us consider what elements produced it.

First, the man was prepared. He was reading from the prophet Isaiah, who is often prophesying about the coming of Jesus Christ, his suffering, death, and resurrection. When Jesus read from the Scriptures to his own community in order to reveal himself, he chose a reading from Isaiah. So, when we preach the Gospel, any success is not our own. A successful conversion depends upon the preparation of the converted: preparation by others who have gone before us and by God in that moment. As Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him.” God must be working in the heart of anyone who will come to believe in Jesus Christ. We can only be instruments of the love of God.

Second, Philip was prepared. He had to know Jesus Christ himself in order to preach. He also had to know the prophet Isaiah well in order to meaningfully interpret. He had to be listening to the Holy Spirit to hear, “Go and join up with that chariot.” He had to know how to talk in a friendly way, in a way that is attractive. If we want to convert the world, we need to study, especially the Scriptures. We need to pray, especially to listen in prayer. And we need to become attractive. Not Hollywood attractive, but Mother Theresa attractive. We should attract other people because they can see Christ in us. We need to know Jesus Christ, intellectually, spiritually, and personally, before we can effectively introduce him to others.

Preaching the Gospel is rarely as easy as in this story today. If we wait to preach until we are in such an ideal situation, we may never actually get around to it. We should preach when it is easy and when it is hard, but the more we are prepared the easier it will be, and a lot depends on the preparation of the other person. If we succeed, we are only harvesting what has been planted and watered by others. If we seem to fail despite doing well, we may just be planting for another person to harvest. Above all, no matter who plants or harvests, God causes the growth. It is God’s work, but we get to participate, so we should do our best without regard to our own success.