Wednesday, April 20, 2016

5th Sunday of Easter

“Behold, I make all things new.”  These were God’s words to the prophet Isaiah.  These were the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples.  These were the words that drove the disciples onto the street to spread the good news.  How fitting that in our celebration of Spring and Easter has our readings looking at something new:

Acts 14:21-27
Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Revelation 21:1-5a
John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Our first reading from Acts of the Apostles has us continuing our journey with Paul and Barnabas as they continue to spread the good news.  But not all has gone well.  While they continue to gather followers, they also find themselves literally being dragged out of some towns.  After a successful stay in Derbe, we rejoin Paul and Barnabas as they are now heading home returning through the cities they had visited earlier.  As they return they find communities of believers and appoint elders to lead them.  They eventually make their way back to report to all the disciples how they had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.  This is indeed something new, and the joy they brought with them is heard in our Psalm as we sing, “I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.”

Our second reading also speaks of something new as we continue our study of the Book of Revelation.  This week’s passage gives us John’s memorable vision of a new heaven and a new earth.  The great battle between good and evil is over!  God has prevailed and with it comes a new start.  God now dwells with his people and there is no more death.  What was has been wiped way, making everything new, and as followers of Christ, we are part of this new heaven and new earth.

Continuing our theme, our Gospel from John gives us the New Commandment:  Love one another.  How simple.  All the 10 commandments… all of what is in the Mosaic Law, parsed down to this one simple rule.  So important was this teaching that all the four gospels mention it, but only John’s version gives us something new to consider.  After instructing them to “love one another,” Jesus says, “This is how I will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  In other words, Jesus is teaching that our actions will speak louder than any words we could use.  All those who love will be counted among his disciples.  It’s one thing to profess one’s discipleship to Christ, but true discipleship is measured by one’s actions.  And this test isn’t just for those who profess to follow Christ.  With this call the doors of salvation have been blown open for anyone who can find it in themselves to love one another.

Final thoughts:
Some of you may be aware of a new miniseries on the National Geographic Channel, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.  This six part mini-series explores various cultures (ancient and modern) on their belief in God.  Freeman takes an enlightened and balanced approach that both believers and non-believers should appreciate.  Episode 2 is titled “Apocalypse.”  It addresses a topic that crosses religious boundaries more readily than you might think.  The entire episode is good, but I found its closing lines most profound as it summarizes our Catholic perspective on the Apocalypse and the entirety of the Book of Revelation.

Mr. Freeman says:
I set out to understand what the apocalypse means to people of many different faiths.  I had always thought of it as a… all destroying doomsday, but I’ve discovered that some people yearn for the apocalypse.  They want to be free of injustice.  They want to escape suffering.  They want a better world.

“Apocalypse”.  It’s a Greek word meaning “lifting the veil.”  It’s not about war, it’s about enlightenment.  It’s not about death.  It’s a state of mind and heart that helps us to see the truth.  Not some far off day of judgment.  It’s here.  It’s now.

I couldn’t have said it better…

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