Preaching the Good News | Season of Joy

Season of Joy

Today's Season of Joy reflection on Acts 8:1b-8 is by Tom Orth.

Tom is a retired high school teacher, coach, and parish catechist. He’s been married for 42 years. Both his wife Marybeth and he were Jesuit educated at Xavier University in Cincinnati, parishioners at St. Patrick Historic Black Catholic Church in Charleston, S.C., members of parish Synod on Synodality Committee and social justice activists in the spirit of St. Ignatius.

Preaching the Good News

from Acts 8:1b-8

Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them.

To read the full scripture passage, please visit:

We find out in the opening verses in Chapter 8 that “devout men buried Stephen,” the first deacon in the Catholic Church.

To back up to Chapter 7 in Acts, it is entitled: “Stephen’s Discourses” or in my words “Stephen’s Preaching.” At the conclusion of Chapter 7, Stephen called out the esteemed Sanhedrin rulers of the temple “stiff-necked and uncircumcised of heart.” And they were given the Law but refused to obey.

Because of his bold and truthful preaching, Stephen was stoned and killed. Not before, “he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked up to heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Soon after Stephen’s death, devout men—ironically possibly Jewish admirers—buried the Church’s first martyr and the first deacon.

Meanwhile Saul, before his conversion and changing his name to Paul, is “trying to destroy the Church.” Dragging people out of their homes and sending them to jail.

Saul was supposedly extremely cruel. Honestly, I thought about the Russians in Ukraine doing the same thing as Saul. They took it one step further and killed the Ukrainians.

Probably many people reading this reflection are attending inter-religious church services and "Save Ukraine" rallies and marches and just storming the heavens with prayers for peace, like we are doing in Charleston, SC.

Next in this passage of Acts, we read about Philip the Apostle going to Samaria “to proclaim Christ to them.” It was courageous for Philip to go to Samaria because the Jewish people and Samarians hated each other. Think of Philip as a missionary.

He had to be so strong in faith and dedicated his life to spreading the Good News of Jesus and growing the Church. Actually the Apostles chose six assistants besides Philip who all “went about preaching the Word.”

Whether or not they were deacons officially, they preached and distributed food, and helped take care of the poor. Philip himself worked many miracles including: “driving out unclean spirits of possessed people.” Philip also was an early martyr in the Church.

We are very fortunate in the United States to have 16,000 permanent deacons. However, several thousands of these men are retired and more will be retiring each year. Combined with the shortage of priests, and many priests reaching retirement age every year, we need many new priests and deacons in the Catholic Church.

Women deacons would be a wonderful help for the Catholic Church. For 5 years I have been studying, learning and promoting the cause of the restoration of women to the deaconate.

St. Phoebe, in the early Church, is the only woman deacon mentioned in the Bible. There were women deacons in the first 10 centuries in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis had a second commission to study the restoration of women to the deaconate that concluded in September 2021.

Religious sisters, priests, lay men and lay women from around the world were on the Study Commission in Rome. No results were published.

At the conclusion of the Commission, several members went to a Papal audience before they departed from Rome. When the Pope finished his remarks, he approached the members of the Commission who presented the Pope with a nice framed picture of St. Phoebe.

In Italian, the Pope said: "Vai Avanti"…."Go Forward."

Finally, Pope Francis has spoken more than a few times about preaching. He has been quoted addressing priests and deacons that it is necessary to “renew confidence in our preaching through which God reaches out to his people.”

I relish reading Pope Francis’ homilies. I invite everyone to read his traditional Easter message followed by his blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world).

And in regards to wars in the world, including Ukraine, Pope Francis exhorts:

"May we be won over by the peace of Christ! Peace is possible; peace is everyone’s responsibility!"



Who are memorable priests or deacons whom you have heard preach in church in your life? Name them! Pray for them.

Who are women whom would be excellent preachers if they were permitted to be at the pulpit? Name them! Pray for them.

God bless!

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