Baptism of the Eunuch

26 April 2007. Thursday of the 3rd Week of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 8, 26-40 Baptism of the Eunuch

There was a road that links Palestine and Egypt along the coastal coast. It is called Gaza. There were two Gazas: the Old or Desert Gaza built in 93 BC, but was destroyed by war and a new Gaza is on the south of Palestine, built in 57 BC. This road is found in the Madaba map. Gaza is a seaport and together with Pelusium in the eastern extreme of the Nile Delta, they serve as ports for shipping and trade and frequently used by travelers or pilgrims. Traveling by sea was expensive, but much more comfortable. It was in this new road that the Ethiopian eunuch along with his chariot came by. The eunuch was a chancellor of Candace — not a name, but the title given to queens of Ethiopia. This eunuch was one of the pilgrims who had been to Jerusalem. People who travel to Jerusalem were generally those fed up by the loose morals and the numerous gods and goddesses that marked their time.

The pilgrims were of two kinds: the proselytes who accepted Judaism and became circumcised and the God-fearing who did not convert, but attended synagogue services and read the Scripture. The eunuch was either a proselyte or God-fearing, no one knew, but we knew that he was reading Chapter 53 of Isaiah. Philip began with the eunuch’s interest in the Scriptures and ended by showing him Jesus. Eventually, when he believed, the eunuch was baptized.

In the New Testament, baptisms were done for adults by immersion or running water. Baptism symbolized three things: First, just as our bodies are cleansed by water when we take a bath, a person who has been baptized are cleansed from sin and defilement. The whole of us, our bodies and souls, is cleansed by baptism.

Second, the people were baptized in old days in banks of rivers. Usually they are baptized in one bank and then are asked to exit in the other bank, to signify that a new break was been done. And thus, our old lives are renewed.

Third, baptism was really a union with Christ. As the person is immersed in water, the person ‘dies’ — like drowning in water. As the person is taken out of the water, the person acquires a new life — like those saved from drowning. Thus baptism is a dying and a rising in Christ.

The Ethiopian eunuch rejoiced when baptized. This is not surprising: a person who is overjoyed shares his joy to others. Today, a friend of mine texted me. He said that he would like to share his joy with me: He passed the entrance exam in UP Law. Acquiring a new life, as in baptism, cannot be contained, as my friend who cannot keep his joy to himself.

All of us have been baptized. But how many of us take our baptism seriously. Because if we have taken our baptism seriously, then we will be overjoyed that a new life has been given us. And when we are overjoyed, our joy is shared to others. Are we overjoyed because we’re Christians? Are you happy that you share this faith with others?

Published by Jboy Gonzales SJ

TV host: ABSCBN's Kape't Pandasal. Environment. Culture. Music. Photography. Leadership. Edgy. Eccentric. Jesuit.

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