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Phillip in Samaria

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Acts 8:5-17

This is today’s (Tuesday of the third week after Pascha) reading from the book of Acts. It is most beneficial for us to read the Divine and Holy Scripture daily. Our Church as a good and wise mother provides for us daily readings which can be found in every calendar.

Phillip is one of the seven deacons. It is he who first preaches the Gospel in Samaria, not on of the 12 Great Apostles. This is no insignificant detail. It clearly communicates that anyone can preach the Gospel. In fact, all of us should. Actually, all of us do. How? By the way we live, the way we love and serve God and our neighbor.

Our Lord Jesus Christ commands: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mt 5:16). And again, If ye love Me, keep My commandments (Jn 14:15).

Every Christian preaches the Gospel, whether he wants to or not, by how he lives his life. Do we practice what we preach or not? Most Christians today, sad to say, are Christian in name but not in life. Why are there tens of thousands of Christian denominations in America today? Because we seek a gospel which agrees with our own philosophy of life, which does not require is to repent (change).

This is precisely why America and the world are in the shape that they are in: Christians have ceased be Christian. In other words, Christian in name but not by life.

What can we do? Need we all preach? Yes, we all need to preach - by loving Christ and keeping His commandments as He said. We need to go to church - a big enough statement in contemporary America, keep the fasts as we can, say our prayers and be charitable to our neighbors. Living as Christians will make us quite different from the world around us. This is our witness, this is our preaching of the Gospel: Being Orthodox, living the faith.

Now Samaria was prepared to receive the Gospel. First they had the word of Phitini - the Samaritan woman - and, as the Gospel according to John testifies, the Lord Himself remained and taught them. Philip preached with the power of the Spirit and baptized those who believed. However, the Apostles had to come to bestow upon them the gift of the Spirit of God, as this is something beyond the ability of deacon to do.

What does this teach us? That we all have a role in peaching the Gospel and ministering to the Church. We need not think that we have to do everything ourselves. The Lord gives to each certain gifts that are to be used for the benefit of the Church and the welfare and salvation of all. It is our combined effort, our combined service, that bears the fullness of our witness. We complement and complete one another. In this way we learn to trust and love one another. And this is our witness: loving God and one another.

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