Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 8:26-40; John 6:44-51)
Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night
As a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear.
These are Romeo’s words after first seeing Juliet. A “jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” brings to mind stunning contrast because of the rich, black color of Ethiopians’ skin. When Philip baptizes the Ethiopian in the reading from Acts, he thus introduces people of black skin color into Christ’s community. The Church has already expanded beyond national boundaries to assimilate non-Jews as well as Jews. Now it makes a further leap by including people of the darkest shades of skin as well as those of lighter hues.
But inclusion of the Ethiopian transcends still another border. He is a eunuch, a man who was castrated to fulfill a courtly purpose. The Pentateuch forbids such men from entry into the people of Israel although the same Isaiah whose book of prophecy the Ethiopian is reading predicts their future acceptance. Here the prophecy is fulfilled in the name of Jesus Christ.