St. Philip, the Ethiopian eunuch and Cinderella’s ugly step-sisters

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Today was the feast of St. Philip and the new testament reading comes from Acts when Philip went out and shared the gospel with the Ethiopian Eunuch:
(Acts 8:26-39)

   “Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,    
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,      
so he does not open his mouth.
 In his humiliation justice was denied him.    
Who can describe his generation?      
For his life is taken away from the earth.’ 
The eunuch asked Philip, ‘About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’ He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.”


This Ethiopian eunuch heard something in the gospel. Something worth rejoicing over. Rich, educated, but powerless and an outsider, the eunuch related to Jesus particularly. The butt of some jokes turned out to be the Son of God. How beautiful. The Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing and today, Africa is where Christianity thrives the most. They still see something in the gospel worth rejoicing over.  It’s something like the underdog story. The messiah that was beaten, downtrodden, humiliated and then… resurrected. 

If Jesus is the ultimate Cinderella story, it can be easy for us (read= American Christians) to play the role of ugly step-sisters. The prize is ours. We deserve it. The prince is ours for the having if we just say what we’re sure he wants to hear. Tell us differently and we’ll scrunch our noses in entitled disbelief. 


(Emphasis on the ugly)


Fellow Americans, (particularly fellow white, English speaking, economically viable ones), this is a good news, bad news situation. The bad news is- we might not really grasp this perspective of the eunuch, the outsider. Ever. There’s a good chance you’ll spend every day of your life only knowing cultural privilege. The good news is, and I know this for sure, this eunuch’s rejoicing is highly contagious. Make yourself prone to it, somehow, and you’ll be all the better for it. 

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