5th Sunday Of Easter-Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The Many Ways of Giving Up One’s Life”.
The central theme of the readings of today is the “many rooms” present in the house of the Father, that is, also the ‘many services’ that can be rendered to a community and within a community. The first reading describes of how the community of Jerusalem solved the problems that had arisen in the early Church and how that resolution promoted greater ‘unity’. The second reading uses the image of the ‘new building’, and like ‘living stones’ we must allow ourselves to be built into a ‘spiritual house’. In the Gospel, Jesus says that the ‘Way’ that leads to the Father is the ‘giving up of oneself’ through serving our brothers and sisters in the community.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible. These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings. These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings. ‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.
In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
Acts 6:1-7. The twelve apostles, now with the new addition of Matthius, made it clear that they could not fulfil all the roles themselves. “Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” This event described in the Acts suggests two valid reflections for our present day communities. The first one is that since the Church is made up of people and not angels, it has in its long history had to deal with problems caused by envy, jealousy and misunderstandings among people of different cultural backgrounds. The second reflection is even more important. Faced by the growing needs of the community, the apostles did not keep all the authority to themselves; they did not want to assume the burden of all the work involved; they did not expect to be responsible for every single job and task knowing all too well that there was a risk of not doing any of them properly. Instead they invited the whole community to choose among themselves seven capable persons that could oversee the charitable activities. They kept for themselves only one ministry, the most important, the ‘Ministry of the Word’. Luke intends to suggest that the extension of the apostle’s ministry to the seven men was pleasing to God and in accord with God’s plan for the Church. A new level of ministry arises out of the Greek widow’s needs. It was no longer just the apostles who had responsibility for the well-being of the community. Others could be called, too. An important lesson here is that tension in the Church is not new. From the earliest days various groups in the universal Church have had trouble getting along, but under the leadership of the apostles, these tensions are resolved in a way that leads to the betterment and the strengthening of the community. Today, we can still do great works because the ‘Risen Jesus’ is with us in this more advanced technological age. Thus the new ministries of today have a solid backing. Times are changing and laity is challenged to take a role in ministry, and is reminded that Christ is with them every step of the ‘Way’. Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19. The Psalm for today celebrates in song the virtues of the God of the Covenant, which came to a climax in Christ (Jn 1:17). The psalmist is not blind to the reality of suffering in the world, moreover he knows that God can ‘deliver their souls from death, and give them life in famine’. His reference to rescuing souls from death makes it a suitable Easter hymn. 1 Peter 2:4-9. Peter, in the second reading, points out how Jesus is “a living stone”, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight … Like ‘living stones’, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Through baptism all Christians belong to this holy priesthood – “the priesthood of all the faithful”. This is the highest honour of being a Christian. The laity with their diverse gifts helps to further Christ’s work on earth. Lest the dignity of the priesthood of the faithful overawe us, John reminds us in the Gospel of these words of Jesus: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me … I am the ‘Way and the Truth, and the Life’. The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” John 14:1-12. Followers of different Christian denominations or religions sometimes claim that God is on their side only. When this claim is pushed to the extreme, it gives birth to intolerance and violence. Those who see the truth from a different cultural or religious perspective are often despised and persecuted. For the
people of Israel, too, it took some time for them to accept that YHWH, the God of Israel, is not only their God, but also the God of all creation and of all peoples. This vision of God changed during the humiliating experience of exile. Through suffering, God challenged them to a greater faithfulness. The exile challenged their vision of God and opened their hearts to accept that they did not have a monopoly of the ‘Truth’ and could not own God. God is the Creator of all. All peoples belong to God. The Catholic Church too has known a profound evolution from a time when all non-Catholics were thought to be damned. We now experience in the Church today a desire to actively share and seek dialogue with other Christian denominations and religions. Jesus enabled his followers to come to know God, but he alerted them to the fact that they are not the only children God has. There is room in God’s heart for ‘all’. Diversity is part of God’s plan because as the Vatican Council teaches, the Spirit of Jesus precedes his disciples and works in the hearts of all people, to prepare them to receive the ‘Good News’ of salvation when it can be proclaimed openly. Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am now going to prepare a place for you.’ Thomas asks about the way they are to follow to have access to the house Jesus is talking about. In his answer, Jesus focuses his revelation on his own person: because he reveals the ‘Truth’, which gives ‘Life’, he is himself the ‘Way’ that leads to the Father. The one who follows that ‘Way’, that is to say, who believes in Jesus, is already with the Father (v.7). The ‘Way’ is really unique for each person and all are walking on it in their own rhythm and pace according to their own understanding and station in life. Jesus does not lead to himself, but to God his Father. Phillip like the other disciples is not entirely satisfied; he would like to see the Father right away. His request shows that he has not yet fully understood that the Father is found in believing in Jesus and in listening to his Word. Jesus, therefore, invites Phillip to have faith in the strongest meaning of this word, that is to recognize in Jesus, the manifestation of the Father among human beings. Jesus also insists on the importance of ‘Works’. Those who have faith will accomplish works greater than those he did! These works will not be like those Jesus performed, will not consist in healing a man born blind or in resuscitating a ‘Lazarus’, but in making known everywhere in the world the ‘Good News’ of salvation for all humankind. Is God still Mysterious to you? Does he sometimes seem distant and faraway? It shouldn’t surprise us, but God has made a lot of effort to bridge the ‘infinite gap’ between Him and us, to help us know Him, as He is.
The ‘Word was made flesh and dwelt among us’. He taught us by word and even more by deed. Watch him. Listen to him. Take him at his word when he says, “If you know me, then you will also know my Father.”
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way’:
Almighty God and Father, on the… of the week following the
5th Sunday of Easter Year A, we reflect on ….
Mon… Our Church is made holy by the Spirit and not by its members. Despite the history and the good works of all of the saints, it is not meant to be a shrine for the righteous but a hospital for sinners, and a very busy hospital at that!
Tues… It was decided under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that an extension of their ministry was to be passed on to the ‘Seven’. This was pleasing to God and in accordance to God’s plan for the Church. Let us today thank God for the gift of the Deaconate.
Wed… Today, tensions still do and still exist in our communities; but due to the ‘Oneness’ of our precepts and resolve and by the examples of problem solving given to us by the apostles in the early Church, our bishops, parish priests, deacons and our community leaders can all come together in a common resolution to promote unity and love among God’s people.
Thur… Christ our ‘cornerstone’ calls us to be built into ‘Edifices of the Spirit’, temples where God’s Holy Spirit lives and moves and has its being. The only church that matters ultimately is the church that we are, the church that those who seek Christ encounter when they witness the ‘testimony’ of our lives. Are we true witnesses to Christ? Pray for God’s guidance on the ‘role’ you too can play in his Church.
Frid… Jesus said, “I am the Way”. We are on a journey with an eternal destination. Our life has come from God-Creator and must return to a loving God-Judge. Jesus points to the ‘Way’ by his teaching and examples of his life based on love for all in the Gospel. Through the Eucharist, he provides food for the journey.
Sat… Jesus said, “I am the Truth”. Proclaiming his truth was given priority by the apostles. In a world of rapid change, passing fashions, lacking meaningful shape or deep roots, is there any solid foundation? A house built on his ‘Truth’ will withstand all storms, forces and floods of change. Do we base our lives on ‘Truth’?
Sun… Jesus said, “I am the Life”. Through faith and baptism we become children of God, sharers in the divine life. Explore these privileges of divine adoption. Do we behave like children of God?
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, on our journey with an ‘eternal’ destination may we follow the ‘Way’ that Christ points to. May we always give priority in proclaiming Your ‘Truth’. May we always honour our promises of Holy Baptism and to treasure the gift of faith You have given us so that we may come to share true ‘Life’ in Your presence. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.