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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

Reading 1 (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.

Gospel (Jn 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."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: God’s word and sacraments are two main sources of strength for human beings.

            In order for people to believe in Christ, it must be a combination of many factors. On the human part, people must be sincere to search for the truth and spend time and effort for study. On the God’s part, He must create opportunities by sending the preachers to preach Christ’s Good News. More important, God must send His Spirit to enlighten human mind so that people can recognize the truth of the Good News, and to urge them to believe in Christ. Without God’s help, people can’t believe in Christ.

            Today readings emphasize on God’s help so people can believe in Christ. In the first reading, God creates an opportunity for the Ethiopian eunuch by sending His Spirit, angel and Philip to explain for him the meaning of an Isaiah’s passage which he was reading. Because of Philip’s explanation and the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, the Ethiopian eunuch believed in Christ and was baptized. In the Gospel, Jesus declared that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him.” The Father draws people to Jesus by providing opportunities for them to hear the Good News and gives the Holy Spirit to enlighten and to urge them to believe in Christ.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Ethiopian eunuch believed in Christ.

1.1/ God arranged the opportunity for the Ethiopian eunuch.

            (1) The angel revealed God’s will to Philip: “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.” Gaza, Ashdod, and Ashkelon are three cities of Palestineans along the coast of Mediterranean Sea. Not many people want to use this way to go from Jerusalem to Gaza because it is the desert route and rough for travel; but shall use the route from Jerusalem to Joppa, and then go along the coast to Gaza, to Egypt and to Africa.

            When Philip came Gaza, he met 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.” This eunuch might be a convert to Judaism, but didn’t have to keep all the law.  The Spirit said to Philip, "Go and join up with that chariot."

            (2) Philip explained Scripture to the Ethiopian eunuch: 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.

            The Scripture passage which he was reading belongs to the Fourth Song of God’s Suffering Servant, Isaiah 53:7-8: “Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people.” 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.” Jesus was God’s Suffering Servant; he was suffered for people, to redeem them from death, and to give them the eternal life. To inherit these priviledges, people must believe in Christ and be baptized.

1.2/ Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch: 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?"

Philip said to him, “nothing except you fully believed.” The eunuch confessed: “I believed in Christ, the son of God.” “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.”

2/ Gospel: “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

2.1/ Jesus taught his audience: Jesus declared, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.” There are many who used this verse to defend the Predestination belief: All were predestined by God to go up to heaven or to go down to hell. They reasoned: If God draws someone, that person can come and believe in Christ, and go up to heaven. If God doesn’t draw, how can a person can believe in Christ? As a result, that person must go down to hell even though he wants to go up to heaven.

            The important word to understand is the verb, “to draw.” How does God “draw” a person to Christ? He draws a person to Christ, not as a man to put a string in an ox’s nose to draw him, nor a train’s engine draws its wagons. God draws a person to Christ by: First, He provides opportunity so that a person can listen to God’s word and be taught, as Jesus said, “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.” The prophets whom Jesus mentioned here are Isa 54:13 and Jer 31:33. Second, God bestows His Spirit to work inside a man, to help him to know the truth, and to urge him to confess his faith in Christ.

2.2/ Jesus nourishes people with his flesh: The faith in Christ isn’t only the moment when a person confesses his faith and is baptized; but extends throughout his whole life. In order to have a living faith and to be faithful to the end, people need to be nourished as Jesus said to people: “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.”

            The sacrament of the Eucharist isn’t an option, people can receive or not; but a very important task to do: whoever isn’t nourished by Jesus’ flesh, shall not have strength to fight against temptations of the devil and the world. It is impossible for those who neglected the Eucharist to be faithful to Christ until the end.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - God can use us to provide opportunities for others to believe in Christ. We should always be ready to be God’s instrument in preaching the Good News to all people.

            - Christ continues to teach us through his words and nourishes us by his flesh through the sacrament of the Eucharist. We should often attend Mass to be taught by God’s words and nourished by his flesh.

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