A few weeks ago in Church we read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 8:27-40). It tells the story of how Philip meets the Ethiopian on the desert road to Gaza and witnesses to him and there baptizes him. At face value this might seem like a chance encounter, but Luke lets us know that more is happening here. He tells us that it is the prompting of the Holy Spirit that leads Philip to reach out. Philip was listening and open to the guidance of the Spirit. Do you believe that the Holy Spirit leads us like that today?
The other day I was in the hospital hurrying about my usual rounds of visiting. Getting off the elevator I heard someone calling ‘Father’. I stopped, and an older woman asked me for directions to the chapel. I gave her the information, but something told me that she was in need of more than directions. I asked her why she wanted to go to the Chapel. She told me that her husband was having surgery and she wanted to light a candle. Needless to say open flames are a no go in the hospital, so no candles there. I asked her about her husband, and we talked for a few minutes. Then I offered to pray with her for her husband, and together we did pray right there in the hallway.
A chance encounter? Perhaps, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit gently (most of the time) leads us to opportunities to minister to people in need. Our daily prayer and time with God open our hearts and minds so that we are better able to recognize the prompting of the Spirit. Taking even just a few minutes to listen, love and pray can be literally a God-send to some one in need. A chance encounter can make all the difference.
Fr. John Scott +