May 26, 2019 Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Reading 1ACTS 15:1-2, 22-29

Responsorial Psalm PS 67:2-3,5,6,8

  1. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
    R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 REV 21:10-14, 22-23

Alleluia JN 14:23

Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 14:23-29

Sixth Sunday of Easter—May 25 & 26, 2019


            If you wanted to name the three most important events of your life, how would you go about choosing them?   Your birth might be the obvious first choice and your vocation would probably be one and your work career could be another.   Personally I would say that my First Communion was a key moment followed by my ordination followed by my experience as a missionary in Bolivia.  

            In 1979, Karl Rahner, one of the most renowned theologians of the 20th century, described what he saw as the three pivotal stages in the history of the Catholic Church.  The first stage encompassed the short period of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the primitive Jewish-Christian movement.  In today’s first reading, we hear about the struggle to grow into the second stage in which Christianity became open to the then-known world.  Those of Jewish origin stated that “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.”  Paul and Barnabas said it was not necessary and they went to Jerusalem to resolve the issue with the apostles and the presbyters.   “After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them that God made no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles and God purified their hearts through faith.  Peter goes on to say “we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”   Paul and Barnabas then shared the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.  James is also in agreement and the assembly suggests that Paul and Barnabas take a letter back to the people of Antioch along with Judas and Silas who will support them in the decision of the Holy Spirit and the assembly not to place on them any burden beyond the necessities to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals and from unlawful marriage.   This meant that Paul’s converts did not have to become Jews to be Christians, nor did the Jerusalem community have to abandon their synagogues and traditional prayer.

            According to Karl Rahner, the third pivotal moment or the third stage for the church was the Second Vatican Council, when the bishops who met were natives of the entire world.  For Rahner, Vatican II, like the Jerusalem Council, offered the church, which had been euro-centric, the opportunity to become genuinely catholic, meaning universal.  The disciples’ conflict can sound very familiar as we struggle over how our church and society are being called to adapt and change as technology shrinks distance, and travel and immigration bring diverse cultures into living contact with one another.  We are living in a time of grace and opportunity.   We need to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us if we open ourselves to that guidance.  Our church does need to grow in holiness through an openness to the Spirit of God.   The evil one is always tempting us to sin and we must be strong in prayer and virtue to choose the good.

            The gospel is part of the Last Supper discourses that Jesus shares with his disciples before his arrest.   I can only imagine the disciples hanging on every word that Jesus shared with them as they could feel the intensity of his words.   First, we hear that anyone who loves Jesus will keep his word.  The love he speaks of here is the love of union, the love of disciples who hear him and internalize his words and desires to the point that his message and hopes become a part of them.  He says that the Father will send the Holy Spirit, The Advocate, in Jesus name who will teach them and remind them of what Jesus said.  When we read the Bible it is wise to begin with a prayer asking for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help us understand what we are reading.   When we have an important decision to make we should pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

            I love the words Jesus shares with the disciples when he says “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.  You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’”   Those are words of great comfort that we need to treasure and hold in our hearts.   Do not be afraid.   I am leaving you but I will come back to you says Jesus.   Trust and believe that Jesus will come back for you and for me.   What a wonderful reunion it will be to fully know the one who loves us so much that He gave his life for us.


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