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Acts of the Deacons

17 Apr

St. Philip the DeaconDuring the Easter season we hear at Mass readings about the early Christians taken from the “Acts of the Apostles.” After the Holy Spirit, the Apostles certainly are the main protagonists of this inspired book, as they were the ones chosen by Christ as the leaders of His Church.

This week, however, we’re hearing plenty about the “acts” of deacons, particularly Sts. Stephen and Philip.

In today’s reading from Acts 8:1-8, we hear about Stephen’s burial, which led to a severe persecution and scattering of the Church. Yet, we also hear that “those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). This statement reminded me of the axiom that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” We see this principle in action, as Stephen’s death has the effect of spreading the seeds of Gospel to an even wider audience.

We then hear about the evangelization efforts of Philip, who in fact is later called “Philip the Evangelist” (Acts 21:8). His words and mighty deeds captivated audiences. But what really struck me was the last verse of the reading, where we discover that Philip’s ministry brought about “great joy” in Samaria (Acts 8:8). This is a powerful reminder to us that the Gospel truly is “good news,” and that if we allow it to penetrate our hearts we will, like Philip, become ambassadors of joy.