May 7, 2021

Sixth Sunday of Easter / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Acts of the Apostles once again provides the first reading for Mass this weekend in the Easter season.

In this reading,

St. Peter enters the house of Cornelius, who falls to his knees to give homage to the leader of the followers of Jesus. Graciously, Peter lifts Cornelius to his feet and then insists that he has no partiality among persons of various ethnic and national backgrounds, because God has no such partiality.

At the moment of this testimony of faith and of true discipleship, the Holy Spirit descends into the group present, including the gentiles. Peter says that anyone so prompted by the Spirit cannot be denied baptism.

To set the stage for this reading, Cornelius was not Jewish. His name indicates that he was Roman, a gentile, part of the detested occupying pagan power. His associates almost certainly were gentiles.

Despite all this, Peter entered the home of Cornelius—an unbelievable act for a devout Jew such as Peter. The Apostle went nonetheless, insisting that all should have access to God and that God welcomes all. Finally, God, in the Holy Spirit, comes into the hearts of all. The Spirit was with Peter.

Peter brought all into the Church by baptizing them.

The First Epistle of St. John is the source of the next reading. This reading is a moving and especially descriptive message about God’s love. God is love. God is in Jesus. Love is in God. Marvelously, God shares this divine love with the faithful.

God’s love and living according to God’s love brings joy—a joy unequalled by anything on Earth.

The test of loving God is in obeying his commandments. God revealed the commandments and the divine plan for salvation through and in Jesus.

St. John’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. As did the second reading, this proclamation of the Gospel centers upon the love of God.

In this reading, God’s love is celebrated. The Lord’s willing, sacrificial death on Calvary proved God’s love. “There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).

Because of uniting with Jesus in faith and love, disciples are friends of God. For the ancient Jews, as well as others in their Mediterranean world, friendship arguably was much more powerful in its meaning than it is today. It meant an intense bond, a loyalty.

Truly loving God means to love others. The image of the vine occurs again. Disciples are the branches. Christ is the great, main vine. Disciples live if they are linked to Christ. They produce much fruit.

The reading closes with the wonderful command of Jesus to “love one another” (Jn 15:17).


Carefully and deliberately, the Church is leading us forward to the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. It is as if we Christians had been standing beside the Apostles in the days following the Resurrection, hearing with them the words of the risen Jesus, seeing as they saw the wonder of life victorious over death.

Now, the mood slightly shifts. The Church is preparing us for life after the Ascension. The obligation of genuine discipleship is upon us. What does it mean?

Jesus calls us “to love one another.” He is the model. Loving all others is a challenge for mere mortals, always and today. Yet it is possible.

It is possible because strength and insight come to any true believer from the Holy Spirit, insight that brings direction, stamina, peace and joy. Discipleship is outreaching and great in its compassion and service. It comes to anyone who earnestly seeks God, even if they are tempted by sin.

These words may seem charming and idealistic. They are demanding. The difficulty is in truly loving all—the strangers, the unwanted, even sinners—and serving all. †

Local site Links: