Thursday, April 18, 2013

Discernment: Role of Scripture, of others, of openness and humility

Discernment: The first reading of today’s liturgy, Acts 8: 26-40, teaches us a lot about discernment. Out of the blue, Philip hears the following message: “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.”  He does so, just like that.  Some times that is how we need to respond to God’s messages. Those messages could come out of the blue  and be heard only within the depths of our beings, as in the case of Philip. They also could come from acquaintances, friends, spouses, pastors, ministers, teachers, counselors, physicians, lawyers, fellow workers, and so on. The source is not the issue. The message is as we hear it coming from God through a human instrument, as did the eunuch in this same Scripture passage. He listens to Philip explain the Scriptures to him and how all is about Jesus, our Savior and King, the One sent from God to save the world from Satan’s power. The eunuch is also open to the Spirit speaking through the circumstances and, as they pass a some water, says to Philip: “What is to prevent my being baptized?”  Seizing the moment, the eunuch becomes a member of the Body of Christ.

 Both Philip and the eunuch are open to the Spirit speaking in the present moment, speaking in the depth of their hearts, directing them toward action and to do that which will be a life-changing event for themselves or another.  Philip leaves his comfort zones—an important part of following the Spirit. As a result, Philip makes a difference in the eunuch’s life. The eunuch is humble enough to allow Philip to open the Scriptures for him.  His life is transformed because of his humility and openness to instruction—elements essential in discerning God’s will.

Another part of discernment is taking time to read/reflect upon the Scriptures. That openness on the part of the eunuch led him to fulfilling God’s will for him.

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