Readings for James Theodore Holly Bishop of Haiti and Dominican Republic (13 March 1911)
Acts of the Apostles:
Some manuscripts include here Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The Eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37)
Acts 8:37 may not be found in many English translations. I have taken up the position of baptizing at the drop of a hat based on this Acts reading about Philip and the Eunuch for a long time. I have especially liked the part where the Eunuch sees water and asked what is to prevent him from being baptized?
I also like the fact that Philip picked up where the Eunuch was rather than starting from the beginning of Genesis and giving the Eunuch more than he either asked for or could handle. This was brotherly love truly demonstrated wherein Philip had compassion for one who was probably refused entrance into the Temple he traveled so far to because of his mutilated condition.
Verse 37 of Acts 8 with its requirement to believe that Jesus is the Son of God is so important to being a Christian. If one does not there is no point in being baptized. In just the same way men wanting to be a Free Mason must proclaim a belief in God (even if not Christian) or there is no point in taking an obligation to be a Mason. Masonry is not a religion, but a man must believe in God, in some way, to be accepted into the fraternity.
James Theodore Holly was the First African American Bishop in the Episcopal Church and Bishop of Haiti. “As an experienced Masonic leader and scholar, Holly visited the Masonic temples and made friends among their members. He was also willing to perform Masonic burial services.” ( adapted from St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, Buffalo, NY (reprinted with permission))
No matter what we do in life or what fraternity or sorority we join, if we are professed Christians we must believe in God as made manifest in Christ Jesus and this must be first in our lives. It was the teachings of Jesus that guided Philip to the pastoral care of the Eunuch. The teachings of Jesus will also guide us today to the pastoral care of all who Jesus puts in our path. We are to go up to their chariot and explain the story of Jesus only as much as they can bear. One does not baptize one’s self, it takes community.
Fraternity, sorority or parish, find a community of faithful believers and be “taken” by the Holy Spirit to do good works.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.