5th Sunday of Easter – Year A

Readings:
Resources Used:
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Entrance Antiphon [Cf. Ps 98 (97):1–2]

O sing a new song to the Lord, for he has worked wonders; in the sight of the nations he has shown his deliverance, alleluia.

Collect

Almighty ever-living God, constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us, that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism may, under your protective care, bear much fruit and come to the joys of life eternal. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Acts 6:1-7

OVERALL: A new section of the Acts of the Apostles begins with our reading for today. We are introduced to two groups in the early community, identified by their background prior to conversion – the Hellenists, and the Hebrews. From this chapter onward, Christians are referred to as “disciples”; this term is no longer applied only to the apostles and to those who were adherents to Jesus during His life on earth – all the baptized are now disciples. Jesus is the Lord of His Church and the Teacher of all: after His ascension into heaven He teaches, sanctifies and governs Christians through the ministry of the apostles initially, and after the apostles’ death, through the ministry of their successors, the Pope and the Bishops, who are aided by priests. Hellenists were Jews who had been born and lived for a time outside Palestine. They spoke Greek and had synagogues of their own where the Greek translation of Scripture (the Septuagint) was used. The Hebrews were Jews born in Palestine; they spoke Aramaic and used the Hebrew Bible in their synagogues. This difference of backgrounds naturally carried over into the Christian community during its early years. This chapter relates the establishment by the apostles of “the seven”: this is the second identifiable group of disciples entrusted with a ministry in the Church, the first being “the twelve”. It is clear that the seven have been given a public role in the community, a role which extends beyond distribution of relief; Philip and Stephen preach and baptize as well. Saint Luke uses the term diakonia but he doesn’t call the seven “deacons” (diakonia). Nor do later ancient writers imply that these seven were deacons in the sense of the word today, constituting with priests and bishops the hierarchy of the Church. It is possible that the ministry described in the Acts of the Apostles for these diakonia played a part in the instituting of the diaconate proper.

Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2 And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 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,

This seems to conform to the Old Testament model (Deuteronomy 1:13; Exodus 18:21) where Moses chose helpers.

4 while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” 5 What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The Jewish ritual which expresses both transfer of function and bestowal of powers (see Numbers 27:18-23). This is also an ecclesiastical practice of Luke’s own time (1 Timothy 4:14; 5:22; 2 Timothy 1:6). This graphically expresses the subordination of this originally independent Hellenistic leadership to Jesus’ chosen apostles.

7 The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Responsorial Psalm

Response

Psalm 33:22

22Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm

Psalm 33:1–2, 4–5, 18–19

1Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright. 2Praise the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings. R.

4For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. 5He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. R.

18Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. R.

Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:4–9

OVERALL: The newly baptized are like babies recently born to a new life of grace. Just as little children clamor for their food, Christians should long for the spiritual nourishment that lies in the Word of God and the sacraments. Baptism makes us members of the Church. Saint Peter uses the idea of constructing a building to explain that Christians together go to make 3 up the one, true people of God.

4 Beloved: Come to the Lord, a living stone, though rejected by human beings yet chosen and precious in God’s sight,

The words of Psalm 118:22 (revised with inclusive language) are applied to the Risen Christ, who was rejected but whose precious quality in God’s sight is found in the new life He shares with those who come to Him.

and 5 like living stones,

In contrast to the inanimate blocks used in pagan temples those who are “alive in Christ” are living stones. By sharing the life of the Risen Lord, Christians become with Him a household formed by the Holy Spirit.

  • “This is how Peter describes the way in which those who have been accepted by God are integrated into the Church. It is by sharing a common origin, and by being in harmony with one another, by thinking and saying the same things, by having the same mind and the same thoughts, that we are built into one house for the Lord.” [Theodoret of Cyr (ca. A.D. 430), Catena]

let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Christians, viewed corporately as a body of priests, present their lives of faith and love as a sacrifice to God (see Romans 12:1; Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18).

  • “The temple which Christ built is the universal (catholic in Greek) Church, which He gathers into the one structure of His faith and love from all the believers throughout the world, as it were from living stones.” [Saint Bede the Venerable (ca. A.D. 416), Homilies on the Gospels, 2,24]

A House of God. Origen: We learn from Peter that the church is a body and a house of God built from living stones. Commentary on John 10.266. ~ Bray, G. (Ed.). (2000). James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (p. 85). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

6 For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” 8and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The first three titles (chosen race, royal priesthood, a holy nation) are titles promised to Israel prior to the sin of the golden calf (Exodus 19:6). The final title (a people of his own) is a combination of Isaiah 43:21 and Malachi 3:17. Christians have become God’s possession by the shedding of the precious blood of Christ.

  • “All who have been born again in Christ are made kings by the sign of the cross and consecrated priests by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.” [Pope Saint Leo (The Great) I (after A.D. 461), Sermons, 4]
  • The Altar Fire Maintained. Origen: If you want to exercise the priesthood of your soul, do not let the fire depart from your altar. Sermons on Leviticus 4.6. ~ Bray, G. (Ed.). (2000). James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (p. 87). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Gospel Acclamation

John 14:6

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Gospel: John 14:1–12

OVERALL: Today’s reading takes place at the Last Supper – just after Judas has left and Jesus has told the remaining eleven that He must soon depart too. This reading has been called “Jesus is the way to the Father”. The reading opens and closes with the commands to believe in God and believe in Jesus. It makes the claim that, if one will not believe Jesus’ words, then his “works” should provide the grounds for knowing the Jesus and the Father are one.

This farewell speech of Jesus is His last will & testament, His longest speech in the Bible. We must pay attention to it with utmost care. The distinct message of Christianity is of utmost display here. Read this farewell discourse of the Lord during Easter.

Jesus is divine. Believe in God… and also in me! Either Jesus is who he says he is or he is a bad guy… strong stuff! difficult… yes! Yet, later on, he makes almost an even more unbelievable claim… that we will do even greater works than him… Bishop Barron talks about hospitals and works of the Church… reaching millions of people… the whole point of his divinity is that we can revel in the fact of what he wants for us… the more we affirm the divinity of Jesus the more loving and accepting we are for other people… it’s not a power trip but a love trip… it’s about love. Go all out affirming the uniqueness and divinity of Jesus and that will allow us to do even greater things than Jesus did.

14 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.

2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

These words could refer to the parousia – the end of time – but could also refer to Christ’s invisible return through the Spirit.

4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Truth in John is the divinely revealed reality of the Father manifested in the person and works of Jesus. The possession of truth confers knowledge and liberation from sin (John 8:32).

Jesus is not just a guide to salvation, the map of the heavenly geography, He is the source of life and truth; the only way.

7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these,

It follows from this that the Christian will also perform the works of God, even as Christ has done on the same principle. These words, as addressed to the first apostles, refer not only to the fact that the works of the Christian believer are performed within the supernatural order, but, first and foremost, to the Church as possessing and continuing Christ’s divine power for salvation. Performance of greater deeds doesn’t refer primarily to miracles, though these will continue, but to the far greater scope, geographically and numerically within which the Church will exercise its salvific power.

because I am going to the Father.

The condition of this activity is Christ’s glorification and the giving of the Holy Spirit.

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