May 15, 2020

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 for Mass this weekend. In the readings of the weekends earlier in this season, the identity of the Apostles has clearly been given.

The Apostles had exercised the authority of Jesus in naming a new member of their group, Matthias, who succeeded Judas. St. Peter healed the sick and spoke on behalf of the Apostles as Jesus had spoken.

It was not just simply that the Apostles had been with Jesus as specially selected students and followers. The Lord commissioned them to discharge divine authority itself. Thus, they continued the mission of Jesus the Redeemer.

In this reading, clarifying this identity continues. While Acts already has clearly established that Peter was the head of the Apostles, the character of apostleship also belonged to the others.

For this reading, the central figures are Philip and John. They performed miracles, as Jesus had done. They were part of the community of Apostles, then centered in Jerusalem, gathered around and beside Peter.

The Apostles in Jerusalem sent Philip and John to Samaria. Just as Jesus had led the Samaritan woman, among other foreigners, to embrace the Gospel, the Apostles looked to the eternal life of all people. The love of God stops at no borders. It embraces all humanity. Later, the Apostles went much farther afield, bearing with them the mercy and power of Christ.

They began the brilliant history of evangelization in the Church, still a critical goal for Catholics.

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

St. John’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. Not a resurrection narrative, it nonetheless serves the Church’s purpose as it teaches us this weekend. After celebrating the resurrection for these weeks since Easter, the Church is summoning us to look at our lives.

This reading is our blueprint for life. Our task as disciples is to love others as Jesus loved all. It is crystal clear. Our salvation is in God’s love, given to us in the Lord.

Indeed, the very act of providing us with a blueprint for living is a vitally important gift given in love to us by God.


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

Already, for weeks, the Church has informed us of 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 reported again and again of the risen Lord’s appearances and admonitions.

Gently, gradually but emphatically, the Church has begun the process of leading us in our day to ask what the resurrection truly means for each of us individually. Is it an anniversary or, for each of us, a personal experience?

The Church will reassure us. Our communion with Jesus was not lost with his ascension when he returned to the Father. Communion remains clearly in the Church, standing with the Apostles and their successors. This link with Peter and the other Apostles also is God’s gift to us.

Through the Church, we hear again the words of Christ. In the Church’s sacraments, Christ’s eternal strength and life continue to flow to us.

These readings call us to peace, hope and goodness. They teach us about life and how to live. †

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