6th Sunday of Easter – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“The Spirit Will Introduce To All Who Wish To Listen, To The Full Truth”.
The first reading shows us an example of this intervention by the Spirit with the early Christian communities. These communities are facing a new and serious problem, never solved directly by Jesus: should the traditions of Israel be imposed on the pagans? The answer is found by the apostles who are assembled together; they pray, discuss and keep their ears and hearts open to the voice of the Spirit.
The second reading tells us what will be the wonderful conclusion of the work of the Spirit in the Church.
We read in today’s Gospel the promise of Jesus to send us the Spirit, entrusting him with the task of leading the Christians, of teaching and reminding them of all that he has said.
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.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29.
The first Christians had many moments of tension. The events that concluded Paul’s first journey in Acts are an example. Christians of Jewish background knew that it was through full observance of the Law given to Moses on Sinai that God’s people had survived loss of land, city and Temple. Paul had now admitted Gentiles from Antioch, Derbe and Lystra without insisting on the fullness of the Law.
The first council of the church in Jerusalem was fraught with controversy. People were worried sick about ‘the changes’ Paul and Barnabus were proposing for the faithful. Since the original followers of Jesus were observant Jews, it was understood by many, that putting your faith in the ‘Good News’ meant first entering the Jewish Covenant. Paul was teaching, essentially, that you could be a follower of Jesus without becoming Jewish. Many disagreed with him virulently.
The Missionary apostles returned to Jerusalem to decide on this ‘question’ once and for all. The message came down from Jerusalem to free the Gentile Christians from the burden of ‘Mosaic Law’ with the exception of four minor rules. These were to: “Abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals and from unlawful marriage”. The ‘New Covenant’ had arrived in Jesus, and in this Covenant circumcision was of the heart, not of the body.
We, the heirs of Gentile Christianity, owe a lot to that first council. What is most important for us to understand is the role that the Holy Spirit played in the decision. The question was not handled democratically but through the discerning power of the Spirit.
Discernment should not be a lost art in the Church. Down through the ages the Spirit has continued to come to our help when changes were necessary. The Spirit is still with us today and will be with us until the end of time.
The teaching we can draw from this reading is very important. We too are tempted to impose our traditions on others, just as the Hebrews tried to do. Whoever announces the Gospel must be very careful to distinguish the content of the message and a way culture expresses it. We may apply to this complicated issue a rather simple rule: the baptized are expected to reject anything that is clearly contrary to the Gospel (such as the so-called right to vengeance, polygamy, adultery). Whatever instead is according to the Gospel or impartial may be kept and practiced, even if people of other cultures may look on these traditions as something illogical or irrational.
Another thing we must look out for: let us not judge as being against the Gospel whatever cannot be understood or taken in by our culture. Culture must always be seen as ‘negotiated space’ and not as ‘cast in stone’ or a rule of life.
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8.
Our Psalm is either a thanksgiving or prayer for harvest. God’s care for Israel is seen as part of his care for all people. Such concern brought about Paul’s missionary successes and was the motive for James’ readiness to compromise on the demands he and the ‘Jerusalem Council’ made on foreigners.
Apocalypse/Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23.
We see the holy city at last through the Evangelist’s eyes. Its foundation is laid in twelve courses of stone with the ‘apostle’s names’ etched into them. The city is a perfect cube, symbolizing completeness.
It is made of precious minerals and metals and its light is the glory of God itself. There is no house of worship because God is there. The veil between us and the sacred is finally lifted.
For now we need our churches. We need sacred times and places, ritual actions and sacraments, holy food and life-giving water. We need places to gather as a community and to say prayers. We need to be confronted with God in Scripture, song and symbol. Otherwise it will be too easy to forget the ‘Light of the Lamb’ that we cannot see, and the beauty of a city we can only imagine.
The Gospel reading is from the farewell speech of Jesus. At the beginning of the speech the disciples of Jesus intervene rather frequently and it is because of these questions that Jesus develops some themes more deeply.
The passage that is read today comes as part of Jesus’ reply to the question of Judas (the brother of James) why Jesus wants to manifest himself to them and not to the whole world. Jesus answers that the world will know him through the disciples because he will live in them, if they keep his word and live in the Spirit that the Father will send. In order to bear witness to Jesus, two basic attitudes will be necessary:
The first is: the disciple has to keep on loving Jesus. Physical absence does not necessarily lessen the love for a person. Sometimes it may have the opposite effect. The absence of someone we love obliges us to discover really what is essential about that relationship and to love that person in a new and enduring way. Jesus will be absent physically but he is going to present in the hearts of the disciples if they love him.
The second is: true love of Jesus requires that his disciples keep his commandment. Jesus had given the ‘Commandment of Love’ earlier in (Jn. 13:34-35). Where there is true love and concrete commitment, Jesus promises that something wonderful will happen: God – (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) – will come and ‘make their home’ in the heart of the disciple (Jn. 14:23, 25). The disciple will become like a temple where the Trinity will dwell.
Later, St. Paul will remind his Christians that they need to respect their bodies because they are ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cor. 6:19). Easter Time is a time to remember God’s presence in us through our baptism and to witness to it through the way we live everyday as his children.
In the farewell speech there are several commands that show how he wants his disciples and us to live in the future. The first thing Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. They know that the hour of his death is near and it makes them sad and because he will no longer be with them. They are also afraid how they will face the new situation alone when he is gone. In this speech he commands them not to be afraid. We often allow fear to dominate our lives and to paralyze us.
In our communities we are often afraid of victimization and dare not speak freely. Maybe we are afraid to show publicly our faith as disciples of Jesus and prefer to remain anonymous. It is fear that prevents Christians standing up for the rights of those oppressed and condemned unjustly. Fear paralyzes us and eventually kills our community.
John in the second reading gives us words of courage and strength to take changes in our stride. If we need more strength to face difficult changes, the Gospel reading comes to our aid. If we believe that God lives in us, we need not to be afraid and we will dare to speak out boldly for justice and the truth in the name of Jesus. Jesus tell us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Surely, then, as Christians we should we should have no hesitation in accepting the changes we need to face. God is with us through the Son and the Holy Spirit.
On the eve of his suffering, Jesus spoke of peace…an inner strength drawn from the presence of God within. The peace that the world gives depends on outer circumstances such as the absence of war or injustice and the avoidance of conflict or suffering, but ‘His’ peace was drawn from inner strength.
When we shake hands at the sign of peace during Mass, are we blessing each other with the hope that a holy peace may enliven us and penetrate the world through us? Are we inviting God’s peace to dwell in us so that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”?
The most important pilgrimage is to the shrine of God in the ‘sanctuary of the heart’. Do we really believe the words of Jesus that he is at home in us? Or do we spend our energy in searching for a God somewhere out there?
Maybe we are not ready for this peace yet. Maybe there is still a war and many conflicts going on inside our hearts, whether we want the Spirit to take up residence within us? Let us pray for the kind of faith the apostles had and be prepared to make room for a change.
‘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, the Truth and the Life’.
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following 6th Sunday of Easter Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Do we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in the ‘Way of Christ’, along the difficult and narrow paths towards our salvation? The Holy Spirit will always guide us according to the will of the Father. Do we trust in his guidance or do we still stubbornly try to follow our own choices and traditions?
Mon. … What to believe in and how to live our lives can be sometimes confusing. A simple rule for us to follow is that we must reject anything that is clearly contrary to the Gospel. We must practice only what is according to the teaching of Christ even if people within our own community or from other cultures regard it as irrational, eccentric or foreign to the norm. We too are often tempted to impose our traditions, values and our ways on others.
Tues. … Let us never judge as being against the Gospel in whatever cannot be understood. When we are in doubt we have the Church as our teacher, the Mystical Body of Christ. It is guided by the Holy Spirit who through its teachings based on Scripture and Tradition can bring us to the real ‘Truth’.
Wed. … In the second reading we are able to see the ‘Holy City’ through the eyes of the Evangelist. Through the Holy Spirit our Churches are made holy and the Kingdom of God is brought into our hearts. Let us make full advantage of the Spirit’s presence in our parish, in our Mass and in our sacraments. Let us allow ourselves to be confronted and challenged by God in Scripture and to joyfully repent.
Thur. … Do we allow others to know Jesus by faithfully keeping his word and by living in the Spirit that the Father has sent? Are we true witnesses to Jesus by our gratuitous love for him and by keeping his ‘Commandment of Love’? Easter Time is a time to remember God’s presence in us through our promises of baptism and to witness to it through the way we live each and every day.
Frid. … In his farewell speech Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. We must never allow fear to contaminate and dominate our lives. It is fear that prevents Christians from standing up for the rights of the oppressed and the victims of injustices. If we truly believe that God lives in us, we need never to be afraid to speak boldly in the name of Jesus.
Sat. … On the eve of his passion, Jesus spoke of ‘peace’, an inner peace that is drawn from the strength of the presence of the God within us. When we shake hands at the sign of peace during Mass let us bless each other with a sincere prayer in the hope that this holy peace may enliven us and penetrate the world through us and the love we have for each other.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, we pray that we may always trust in the guidance of Your Spirit and not to fall prey to our own choices, the sometimes uncompromising way of our traditions or the ways of the world. May we always reject what is contrary to the ‘Truth’ as contained in Your Gospel. Whenever we are confronted or tempted with doubt may we be guided by the infallible teachings of the Gospel and traditions of Your Church. We pray for the strength to always stand up for righteousness and face the changes we need to make for the glory of the Kingdom. May we never to be afraid to speak in the name of Jesus irrespective of the consequences and/or sacrifices we need to make.
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”.