May 5, 2013 Sixth Sunday of Easter
Happy Easter! Yes, it is still
Easter. The Church celebrates the Easter Season until Pentecost Sunday.
During this time the readings focus on the post-resurrection
appearances of Jesus, on the meaning of the victory of the "Risen One"
and on the presence of Jesus in the community of believers.
This Sunday we celebrate the Sixth Sunday of Easter. The emphasis in
the readings this Sunday is on unity and peace that come from the
presence of God among His people.
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
1 Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
"Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you
cannot be saved." 2 Because there arose no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and
some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and
presbyters about this question.
22 Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole
church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch
with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called
Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. 23 This is the letter
delivered by them: "The apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to
the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin:
greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some of our number (who went
out) without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind, 25 we have with one accord decided to
choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved
Barnabas and Paul, 26 who have dedicated their lives to the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also
convey this same message by word of mouth: 28 'It is the decision of
the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these
necessities, 29 namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from
blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If
you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell."
NOTES on First Reading:
Luke uses this Jerusalem "Council" to mark the official rejection of
the rigid view that Gentile converts were obliged to observe the Mosaic
law. He appears to have telescoped events by combining two different
conflicts into one crisis that is settled by the deliberations of the
Mother Church of Jerusalem. From here to the end of Acts, the focus of
Luke's writing becomes Paul and the Gentile mission. This reading
challenges us to listen to the Holy Spirit when we disagree. If we
trust Him to show us His will, we can find the solution to our
* 15:1-5 When the report of the results of Paul's first missionary
journey reaches some of the converted Pharisees of Jerusalem, they urge
that the newly converted Gentiles be taught to follow the Mosaic law.
Recognizing the authority of the Jerusalem church, Paul and Barnabas go
there to settle the question of whether Gentiles can embrace a form of
Christianity that does not include this obligation.
* 15:2 Here Luke seems to report a conflict that Paul does not mention.
* 15:22-23 Although the letter that Luke presents here is mainly his
own composition, the narrative does have some elements of a previous
tradition that formed one of his sources. The narrative has portrayed
Paul and Barnabas as being involved in the deliberations but later in
21:25 it seems that Paul receives the decision for the first time.
There seem to be two different traditions that Luke has attempted to
meld together. The letter is very much in keeping with the style of the
Hellenistic historians' convention. The introduction is standard for
Greek letters of the time.
* 15:28 The decision is presented as the will of God (Holy Spirit). The
deliberations indeed emphasized the initiative of God in the spread of
the Church. The Church and its leadership have no authority and no
power or agenda of their own. Their authority is legitimate only as it
carries out the saving will of God.
* 15:29 The Church was faced with a severe crisis in that as more and
more Gentiles joined, the issue of table fellowship with converted Jews
became a serious difficulty. The requirements that are enjoined on the
Gentile converts to Christianity all come from the things required of
aliens residing in Israel by Leviticus 17-18. They appear to be more
specifically from Lev 17:8-9, 10-12, 15; and 18:6-18. These rules
prohibited those things that were so reprehensible to the Jews that
they made table fellowship with them impossible. Thus the ability to
share the same table was established without imposing the entire Mosaic
Law on the Gentiles.
Revelation 21: 10-14, 22-23
10 He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the
holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It gleamed
with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious
stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names
were inscribed, (the names) of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. 13
There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three
west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its
foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve
apostles of the Lamb.
22 I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty
and the Lamb. 23 The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.
NOTES on Second Reading:
Using the symbolism of a city for the people of God, this reading
impresses us with the sense of unity of the city and of God with His
people. United with our God how can we remain alienated from each other?
* 21:12-13 The combination of the names of the twelve tribes and the
names of the twelve apostles implies a people but the people of this
future city are not the people of God simply identified by either the
old covenant or the Church. The city represents God dwelling with His
people face to face. Thus no temple was needed as a focus for the Holy
since the entire city (entire people) are holy (21:22).
* 21:14 The words translated as "Courses of stones . . . apostles" are
literally, "twelve foundations." See Eph 2:19-20. Here the apostles are
described as the foundations of the new Jerusalem.
* 21:22 Because Christ is present throughout the church, no temple is
needed as an earthly dwelling for God. See Matthew 18:20; 28:20; and
John 4:21. There is no need for a single place for the holy since the
entire city is holy (21:12-13).
* 21:23 See John 8:12 where Jesus calls Himself the Light.
John 14: 23-29
23 Jesus answered and said to him, "Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our
dwelling with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.
25 "I have told you this while I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the Holy
Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you
everything and remind you of all that (I) told you. 27 Peace I leave
with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it
to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 28 You heard me
tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved
me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is
greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it happens, so
that when it happens you may believe.
NOTES on Gospel:
Here Jesus challenges us to live out the life He has given us by
keeping His word. He promises that if we do so, He and the Father will
be present with us and we will be empowered by the Holy Spirit, the
* 14:23 For John this is the meaning of His coming for there will no
longer be a separation of believers from God/Jesus. There is no need to
wait or look for heavenly habitations to experience salvation in the
presence of God. God is here now for those who believe.
* 14:24 This verse restates verse 23 in negative terms.
* 14:25-31 Having established the future life of the community, Jesus
tells them that He is leaving. But even His departure will result in
further blessing of His followers because the Father will send the Holy
Spirit, the Paraclete.
* 14:26 "Remind" for the disciples meant not only to bring to the
memory but to enable them to understand the teachings and actions of
Jesus. The Advocate will teach them but His teaching will be a deeper
understanding of the revelation present in Jesus. It will not be
independent of the revelation of Christ.
* 14:27 The traditional Hebrew salutation is salom but Jesus' "Shalom"
is much more than simply a wish for peace; it is a gift of salvation,
connoting the bounty of messianic blessing.
* 14:28 This verse was used by the Arians as one of their proof-texts
because it seems to deny the equality of two members of the Holy
Trinity. That interpretation, however, is inconsistent with the rest of
John's Gospel where the divinity of Jesus is very strongly affirmed.
Here Jesus is speaking in terms of function during His mission on earth
in which the Father sent, gave, etc., and Jesus is "a man who has told
you the truth that I heard from God" (John 8:40). In absolute terms,
the Son's glory is equal to that of the Father. It was, however,
veiled, for a time so as to allow Him to be a man on earth. After the
exaltation His glory was revealed again.
- St. Raymond Parish, Dublin, CA