Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
In the First Reading, we see Philip, a follower of Christ who is fluent in Greek, proclaim the word of God to the people of Samaria.
When Philip began proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, the missionary efforts of the early church spread from Jerusalem to Samaria, and into other surrounding areas. Though Samaritan beliefs and practices differed a bit from the Jewish faith, they also had hope in the messiah and awaited God’s final reign. (For comparison, such differences parallel the divisions in today’s many Christian branches.) Similar to their Jewish counterparts, many of Philip’s Samaritan listeners responded to his messages when they saw miracles being performed in Jesus’s name, for only God’s power could overcome the afflictions of evil.
The Apostles in Jerusalem rejoiced when they heard that the Samaritans had accepted the Good News of Jesus. In order to help Philip, Peter and John quickly made their way to Samaria, praying for the Spirit to help enlighten the new believers. This is because, although the Samaritan converts were baptized, they did not yet fully comprehend or experience the transforming divine presence of God’s Spirit. (In other words, they know God’s message and laws, but they did not truly understand the meaning behind his words and were in danger of possibly misinterpreting them.)
But those who already live in the power of that Spirit will always be there to guide them. If one listens with open minds and open hearts, follows the path of love and understanding instead of fear and oppression, new and true believers will always participate in divine life given through our Lord Jesus Christ.