In today’s reading from Acts, we find many Samaritans being baptised, all converts thanks to the disciple Philip. They responded not only to his preaching, but also to the miracles and healing he’d performed. However, the Samaritans had not experienced the Holy Spirit. This means that the Samaritans had been baptised in the named of Jesus, and presumably in water, but not of Spirit.
In the night-time conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus says, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” John 3:6-7
The importance of the Spirit in baptism is made very clear here. The Holy Spirit is our strength, our comfort and our guide as we travel along the spiritual path following Christ. The Holy Spirit keeps us on that path. Sometimes we still find ourselves straying. In those times, the Spirit can bring us home.
Peter and John travelled to join Philip in Samaria. There they performed a laying on of hands, and the Holy Spirit descended upon the baptised. This is reflected in the Sacrament of Confirmation, as the bishop and the faithful extend their hands over the candidates to ask the Spirit to come upon them.
I wonder if it matters when the spirit descends upon us? Whether before baptism, upon baptism or confirmation, or later as it was for the Samaritans? There are Christians who are never really aware of the Spirit. However, Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans.” John 14:18
Especially as we prepare for Pentecost in a couple of weeks, we must always have faith that the grace of God in the Holy Spirit is with us.
Today's Readings: Acts 8:5-8,14-17 Psalm 56 1 Peter 3:15-18 John 14:15-21
Source: Sixth Sunday of EasterThis Sunday