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The Chalice
Friday, April 26 2024


In this week’s first reading from Acts of the Apostles’, we come across a story that has a unique character in it. The story of the Ethiopian eunuch is a well known one in the Acts narrative. Tradition tells us his name was Simon Bachos. He is from the court of the Candace (or Kandake), a title used for the king’s sister or a similar position like the queen mother, and who probably had land and was a respected leader. Eunuchs were used by royal courts to especially protect the women of the royal household. Their condition made them perfect servants for this job as they were no longer a threat to the royal household. 

Jewish culture did not have eunuchs (in Hebrew, called “saris”) but because the eunuch was used in many of the cultures surrounding them, they were well-known to the Jewish people. Isaiah 56:4-5 says this, 

“For this is what the Lord says:

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,

  who choose what pleases me

  and hold fast to my covenant—

to them I will give within my temple and its walls

  a memorial and a name

  better than sons and daughters;

I will give them an everlasting name

  that will endure forever.”

It is often thought that the Ethiopian eunuch is the beginning of the fulfillment of this passage. Because of the non-existence of eunuchs in Jewish society, the eunuch was always a Gentile and yet it was because of his unique condition that God seemingly knew there had to be a provision made for him. 

The Gospel reading from John talks about vines and branches that grow and bear fruit. Before, this almost always meant bearing children and raising large families as the way to glorify God. While the Gospel affirms the goodness of the family and children, it also turns it on its head, affirming those who can’t or don’t get married or have children, as mentioned in Matthew 19:12. Jesus Christ’s message expands from marriage and a family to everyone, even those who don’t fit into the traditional paradigm. It affirms that everyone plays a part in the Kingdom of God and those who abide in God and in Christ bear fruit.

Certainly, this one person from Ethiopia did just that. Today the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahedo Church is the largest Christian body in Ethiopia with 40-50 million adherents. Christianity has played a central role in Ethiopian culture for nearly two millennia. I pray that each of us have the zealous faith like the Ethiopian eunuch so that we can take into our respective communities and bear fruit for the Kingdom. Thanks be to God!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Zach

Posted by: Rev. Zach Baker, curate AT 01:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
St. John's Episcopal Church
12 Prospect St. | Huntington, NY 11743 | PH: (631) 427-1752
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