May 10: Fifth Sunday of Easter. Readings: 1. Acts 6:1-7; Psalm: 33; 2. 1 Peter 2:4-9; Gospel: John 14:1-12.
This Sunday, like last week, has for its focus the church of God and the various roles played by its members.
The picture of the Church Luke paints in Acts is one of service, organised and ordered according to roles that serve the good of a young, rapidly growing community of believers. Its leadership and commitment to diakonia (a Greek word simply translated as “ministry” or “service”) characterise it as a body of people tending to one another’s needs and ensuring unity. Fundamental here is consistent preaching of the Word of God. And it is “the faith” that is being preserved and handed on through this ever-increasing assembly of disciples.
The assorted descriptive phrases in 1 Peter combine to illustrate precisely how we are to understand the Church and its foundations. Such phrases as living stones, a holy priesthood, a spiritual house, a chosen race, and God’s own people variously picture the nature of what we are called to be, and how we should always honour the Word of God that enlivens daily life.
John’s verses add to this sense of church. Jesus’ words of instruction to his disciples begin with the image of God the Father’s house and its many dwelling places. It is following the Lord in order to occupy a place in this house that becomes necessary for everyone who hears Jesus’ words and then believes in them. So, looking to the Lord as the way, the truth and the life must become life’s focus within God’s household. But that is not all. For, in living this way, every believer duly performs works that continue Jesus’ mission.
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER READINGS
First reading: Acts 6:1-7.
At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the Word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid hands on them. The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
Second reading: 1 Peter 2:4-9.
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.”
Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone that will make people stumble, and a rock that will make them fall.”
They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Gospel: John 14:1-12.
[Jesus said]: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where [I] am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.”
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”