Lectio Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
I am concentrating on Acts 8: 14-17. But the reason for the two apostles, Peter and John, to come to Samaria is understood in the events preceding this Lectio.
Firstly, Samaria is important because it shows that the Gospel is being spread beyond the Jews of Judea and Galilee.
Secondly, before chapter 8, the deacon, Stephen is stoned to death (our first martyr). So the persecution of the church has begun.
Thirdly, the Samaritans believed in a messiah.
Fourthly, the emphasis on creating a community is exemplified here. This text is also used to justify the work of the bishop coming to confirm the faithful. Think of Peter and John as bishops coming to do the sacrament of Confirmation.
But also, Acts 8: 14-17, stress what the apostles knew what was important in establishing the Church--community. No Christian community can exist without a relationship with someone who has experienced the resurrected Jesus. Makes sense. How can one experience anything from someone who knows less than you? I suppose one could, but we're talking experience, not just general learning.
So if the apostles in Acts believe in pulling the faithful closer into a community, they visit, they write letters, they keep in touch, and if not done personally, then they send a representative. Hence, the bishop comes, with the authority of an apostle, i.e., apostolic succession.
Catholics are not brought up to be solitary. We are brought up in a community, e.i., family, parish, village, etc.. We are not orphans. We are not rugged individuals. We can't get far on our own. Even our God is a trinitarian community. You, O Lord, lead us to live in a Trinitarian relationship. We are taught to love our neighbors as ourselves. Thus is our church.
Lord, Jesus is among us. He is alive among us. We experience Him in our worship and very lives. We are the body of Christ when we interact with each other and only then are we truly a manifestation of Jesus' church.
Jesus, help me to love others, as You do.