First Reading: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Steps of Evangelization

Literal Translation

5 Philip, having gone down into a city of Samaria, preached (about) the Christ to them. 6 (Almost) as one, the crowds held onto the (words) spoken by Philip, in (their eagerness) to hear (his words) and to see the signs he was performing. 7 For many having unclean spirits were being released, crying out (in) loud voice; many having been paralyzed and the lame were healed. 8 Great joy occurred in that city.

14 The apostles in Jerusalem, having heard that Samaria had welcomed the word of God, sent (the Samaritans) Peter and John, 15 who, having come down, prayed about (the Samaritan believers), so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For (the Spirit) had not yet come down upon any of them, but they were (followers), only having been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 (Peter and John) set hands on them and (the Samaritan followers) received the Holy Spirit.

8:5 Samaritans also anticipated a Messiah figure. They called him "Taheb," which meant "one who restores."

8:7 "many having unclean spirits were being released, crying out (in) loud voice" Although the subject of the sentence are the possessed, the verb "were coming out" referred to exorcized demons. The screams were the demons, not the possessed.

In this reading, Luke related steps of evangelization that reflected Peter's call in Acts 2:38:

"Turn (your) heart-mind away (from sin), let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

In his journey to Samaria, Philip preached and supported his message with healings and exorcisms. In the light of 8:16, the Samaritans were baptized. Whether Philip baptized them (as he did with the Ethiopian in 8:38) or not, cannot be determined. The call the metanoia (with supporting signs) and baptism were accomplished. The third step, reception of the Holy Spirit, came through Peter and Mark, who were sent from Jerusalem.

Notice the attraction to Philip's message was supported by charisms given to him by the Spirit. In other words, effective evangelization required cooperation with the Spirit. And the end result of evangelization is reception of the Spirit by those who hear the message and see its evidence. Spirit-led pointed to Spirit-filled.

In this Easter time, we might ask how we can effectively evangelize. Take this reading to heart. Pray that the Spirit might lead you and use your talents to support your words. And pray the Spirit might fall upon your audience, even if only one person is "in the house."