Skip to main content

5th Sunday of Easter

What happens when you have too much of a good thing?  When a business wins that lucrative new contract or expands into a new location?  Or taking that same idea a bit closer to home, what happens when two families merge through marriage, or when a family welcomes a new child?  We consider this kind of growth to be a good thing, but as with all things, these successes also come with their own baggage.  Our readings for this 5th Sunday of Easter have our Apostles facing similar challenges in the face of their growing successes.

Acts 6:1-7
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Peter 2:4-9
John 14:1-12

Our reading from Acts of the Apostles learning the hard way about the challenges that grow out of their continued success when their number of followers continues to grow.  Up to this point the Apostles have been doing their best to address the needs of the community, both spiritual and physical, but the community has grown so large now that they are becoming overwhelmed.  Realizing that they didn’t have the time to step in and negotiate every minor problem or day-to-day issue, the Apostles look for help.  From among the community they find seven men who are “filled with the Spirit and wisdom,” lay hands upon them, and set them to their tasks.  To us modern Christians, we recognize this laying on of hands as the primary symbol of ordination… men filled with the Spirit and wisdom to lead the community, just as a Deacon or Parish Priest would do today.  Further, we see the Apostles pulling away from the “day-to-day” problems so they are no longer neglecting “the word of God to serve at table,” not unlike our bishops today.  The troubles with growth like this are common with any organization, but our Psalm gives us the guidance we need when we face these types of challenges when we sing, “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.”


Our second reading continues our study of 1st Peter.  This week, Peter teaches that we, the people of God, are the new Temple.  Temple worship has been a long standing tradition among ancient peoples, including the Israelites.  But Peter is abandoning that idea… that worship does not happen in a place, but that it happens among the people, no matter where they are.  This is a monumental shift in thinking, especially for the ancient Jews, for whom the Temple in Jerusalem was (and is) the place that binds them together.  Peter calls us “living stone” as our bodies become a “spiritual house.”  Just as in the ancient Mosaic tradition, God isn’t limited to a single place, but instead lives among and within his people.  Mind you, Peter also had some additional motivations for this new thinking.  Not only had the Apostles and the other followers of Christ been physically thrown out of the Temple, but by the time this letter was written, the Temple itself was destroyed.  The young Christian Church was a Church of the dispossessed… not unlike those former slaves who fled Egypt.  We are the stones of the new Temple.

Our Gospel, taken from the Last Supper Discourses from John, has the Apostles still focused on “place.”  Jesus has promised that there is a place for them in the Kingdom of Heaven, but their thinking is still very focused on the physical… what they can see and what they can touch.  They still see this “Kingdom” as a physical place, and therefore, are concerned about its limitations.  Jesus, of course, is speaking from a higher place… a spiritual place.  Thomas is concerned about how they are going to get there.  Philip asks Jesus if they could just see the Father so they could assuage their concerns.  It is here that Jesus must step back and remind them that if they have seen him (Jesus) then they have seen the Father, and further tells them that because of this connection, their belief in Jesus can lead them to even greater works.  Jesus is trying to get the Apostles to think “outside the box,” a lesson that still needs some time to sink in.

Final thoughts:

This week our daily Angelus email linked to an interesting article titled, “
More Parish Closings Nationwide – What are we to Learn and Do?”  In this article the author, Msgr Pope, is speculating on why it seems so many parishes are getting closed down.  Regardless of why, however (and there are any number of reasons) Msgr. Pope provides us one serious revelation… “Bishops don’t close parishes, people do.”

I encourage you to read this article and ponder it, because it strikes at the heart of our readings this Sunday, which is that WE are the Church, WE are the new Temple, WE are, as St. Paul taught, the “Body of Christ.”  The physical nature of the Church lies within us.  This is what makes us part of the priesthood of the laity…that the action of the Church can only happen through our action.  We all have our duties as members of the Church.  While ordained ministers (deacons, priests, and bishops) all have their roles defined, this doesn’t mean we get to sit back and let them do all the work.  By our Baptism we are also priests on a certain level, and thus have our own role to play… to be that “living stone.”  Without our active participation the Church cannot live to spread the Gospel.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

4th Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we continue our Lenten journey through Salvation History with a continued focus on covenant.  We’ve already given witness to the covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  This week we turn our attention to the Davidic Covenant (the covenant with King David), or more accurately, the covenant with the monarchy of Israel.


The Word for the 4th Sunday of Lent 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalms 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Ephesians 2:4-10
John 3:14-21

Our first reading comes from the end of the 2nd book of Chronicles.  Though our intent this Sunday is to remember the Davidic Covenant, our Lectionary has chosen an interesting approach.  Rather than give us a story about King David, we are presented with a story  from the end of the Babylonian Exile.  Why approach the covenant with David from this tail-end view? 

It’s an approach that actually fits very well with the Book of Chronicles, for you see, the Book of Chronicles is much more than a retelling of the story we heard in books …

3rd Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent marks the midpoint of the season… in Catholic terms, this is like “hump day”, where we happily see that the conclusion of our journey is within sight.  Referred to as Gaudete Sunday, it takes its name from the Latin word for rejoice.  We will hear this word several times throughout this Sunday's Mass in our prayers and our readings.  We light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreaths, rose being a mixture of Advent violet and Christmas white.  Not only is Christmas a joyous occasion to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it reminds us that we are joyous (not fearful) of his return.


The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

We open with a great announcement from Third Isaiah, that the anointed brings glad tidings to the poor.  If his words sound familiar, they should.  Not only are they reminiscent to the announcement made by the angels to the shepherd in th…

Nuns and Nones... continued...

On 6-24-2016 I wrote a brief commentary on what we call the "nones"... that is, those people who check the box that says "none" when asked about their religious affiliation.  That commentary was based on an address by my former high school's principal at their 2016 graduation address.  But this topic of the "nones" returned to my attention with this article posted on our daily Angelus News email from the e-magazine Crux:

Notre Dame debuts digital platform to reach young Catholics, ‘nones’
Please take a moment to read it... 

Of particular interest is the increasing number of "nones," those people who claim no religious affiliation. I first heard this term a few years back from one of the speakers at our LA Religious Education Congress. The term itself grew out of a 2012 Pew Research study that showed this rising trend. Working as I do with the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, this was a known issue, but the Pew study validated what ma…