May 19, 2017

Sixth Sunday of Easter / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Acts of the Apostles once again this Easter season furnishes the first reading. In the readings of the weekends earlier in this season, the central role of the Apostles in the early Church was clearly established.

In a critically important moment in early Christian history, the Apostles exercised the authority of Jesus in naming a new member of their group, Matthias, to succeed the dead Judas. Peter healed the sick through the power of Jesus. Peter spoke on behalf of the Apostles as Jesus had spoken.

The Apostles clearly discharged Jesus’ divine authority, and continued the mission of his redeeming mission. They were the Lord’s specially selected students and companions. But in Acts, they possessed a unique role themselves.

Through them, the Lord continued the mission of salvation. They bore within themselves the Holy Spirit, and gave the Holy Spirit to others.

While Acts already has established that Peter was the head of the Apostles, the character of Apostle belonged not just to him. It was also with the others.

Thus, in this reading, the central figures are Philip and John. They performed miracles, as Jesus had performed miracles, having been sent by the Apostles to Samaria. Their destination reveals much. They looked to the salvation of all people, even of Samaritans, whom Jews so despised. No one was beyond the scope of salvation in Jesus. No one was inherently bad, beyond redemption.

The second reading is from the First Epistle of St. Peter. It is a strong, joyful and enthusiastic proclamation of Jesus as Lord, calling believers to hear him and follow him. The Lord should be in their hearts and minds.

St. John’s Gospel is the source of the last reading. After celebrating the resurrection for these weeks since Easter, the Church gently is summoning us to look at our lives in our times and circumstances.

This reading is our blueprint for life. Our task as disciples is to love others as Jesus loved all. It is clear. God’s love, given to us in the Lord, is our salvation. Indeed, the very act of giving us a blueprint for living is a vitally important gift given in love to us by God.

Reflection

The next major liturgical event for us will be the celebration of the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. Soon after this feast, we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. Within sight now is the close of the Easter season.

For these weeks, the Church enthusiastically has proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, gloriously occurring after the dreadful events of Good Friday. It has shared with us its joy, echoing the joy of the first Christians. It has told us again and again of the risen Lord’s appearances and admonitions.

The message is very strongly catechetical. Our communion with Jesus was not lost with the Ascension when Jesus returned to the Father. The Lord clearly continues to live in the body of his faithful, the Church, which continues to be led by the bishops who are the successors of the Apostles. Christ lives!

Through the bishops, we still hear the words of Christ. In the sacraments they give us, we are drawn into the power of Christ’s eternal life. We share communion with Jesus.

Finally, in the reading from John’s Gospel, the Church tells us how to live. We must love others.

Gently, gradually, but definitely, the Church has entered and pursued the process of leading us to ask what the resurrection deeply and really means for each of us individually.

Remaining for us is the obvious question. Are we willing to accept the risen Lord? †

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