Let us see who
has given witness
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
Philip was one of the first seven deacons of the Church. The proto-martyr Stephen had just been executed by stoning (Acts 7). Saul and his men were going house-to-house, dragging out Christians and bringing them to trial, throwing them in prison, and killing them. By Acts 12 we see James the brother of John killed by Herod. The Church historian Eusebius tells us that James the Just, the Apostle and so-called Brother of the Lord was placed on the pinnacle of the temple, thrown down, then clubbed and stoned â€“ for he would not forsake the Lord.
Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Savior and Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But they were unable to bear longer the testimony of the man… they slew him.
Philip was among those scattered in the first major persecution of the Church. Being scattered did not prevent him, or any of these others, from witnessing to the faith. Each of those we read about, and the countless number of Christians whose names we will never know, proclaimed the word and kept the faith in good times and bad.
This proclamation of the word and witness were not an accident. It was prompted by faith in the promises of Jesus. These witnesses lived in the Spirit Who had filled them with His gifts and strengthened them for the task.
Jesus promised those who would be baptized, who would come to Him in faith, would never be left orphans: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always. They would always have what is necessary to witness.
The Spirit has drawn men and women â€“ and us â€“ to give witness. Thus, while the Church may have been scattered in persecution (persecution that still exists in many places to this day) witness has never ceased.
As we reflect this weekend on those who have given their lives in witness to national freedom, let us also reflect on those who are giving witness to the truth that surpasses country and nation. Whether we live in relative safety or are among the persecuted â€“ are we giving witness to the truth? Let us abide in the Spirit and ask that He give us the courage to give testimony always and everywhere.