Fifth Sunday of Easter 10 May 2020

Today, we will recite or sing the response to Psalm 32: ‘’May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.’’

Matt. 8: 23-27. ‘’When he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘’Save us, Lord, we are perishing.’’ And he said to them, why are you afraid, O men of little faith? Then he rose and rebuked the wind and the sea; and there was a great calm.”

 The Apostle’s prayer of desperation, called forth a response from Jesus, resulting in ‘’a great calm.’’ Today, the whole world community continue to pray to be rid of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sooner or later we too will experience’’ a great calm’’

Today’s First Reading: Acts 6: 1-6 gives us some insight into how the early Christian community dealt with everyday contentious issues as they surfaced.

‘’About that time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution, their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘’It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven  men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’’ The whole assembly approved of the proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit’-   together with seven others. They presented them to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands over them.’’

These few verses from Acts 6: 1-6 teach us so much about this early Christian community, and the values which were important to them.  We read that ‘’the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples.’’ We remember here the promise made by Christ to the  Twelve before his ascension; ‘’you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witness not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth.’’ The gifts received at Pentecost enabled the Twelve to live the values that Jesus practised in his lifetime: healing the sick, caring for widows and orphans, being inclusive of the ‘’outsider’’, and so much more. Daily, when we manage to do something worthwhile, we too are enabled by the gifts of that same Spirit.

One great joy, at this time of the Covid-19 virus is when we are witnessing how well those who have the virus are being cared for. We can rejoice that the values of the ‘’Twelve’’ as in the first century, are still alive and active in our day. More than that, we are grateful to the many who are willing to risk their own lives in their service of others. It is as if those who died while responding to the needs of the sick, had heard St. Paul’s plea, ‘’be imitators of me as I am of Christ.’’   

In years to come, perhaps, parents will be telling their children and grandchildren about Covid 19; It was everywhere; and we were afraid that we would be next.’ Today as our boat is being swamped by the waves of Covid -19, our faith in Christ whispers:

‘’Put your hand in the hand of the Man who rules the sea. Put our hand in the hand of the Man from Galilee.”

The Second Reading for this 5th. Sunday after Easter

 When we read any of Peter’s letters, we know we are not reading the words of a stranger. Both his life and death constantly speak to us. It is difficult to forget Peter’s denial of Jesus, followed by his heartfelt repentance (Luke 22: 54-61). ‘’At that instant, while was still speaking, the cock crew, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered what the Lord had said to him,’ Before the cock crows today, you will disown me three times’. And he went out and wept bitterly.’’ Through Peter’s denial we learn about Christ’s forgiving love. O happy fault, Peter.

1 Peter 2: 4-5’’ He is the living stone, rejected by people but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house.‘’

In verse 4, Peter invites us in to ‘’set [ourselves] close to Christ’’ He is inviting us to do just that because it worked for him. His deep relationship with Christ shines through his writings.

For his mission to flourish now, Christ needs us ‘’to be living stones making a spiritual house.” The secret is to do it with him, in him and through him, and we will then be his witnesses throughout the whole world.  It is through our Baptism that ‘’the Holy priesthood that offer the spiritual sacrifices’’ is conferred on us. Through Baptism each of us is ‘’another Christ.’’ We share in his priestly, prophetic and kingly mission.

‘’Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me.’’ Jn. 14: 1

                                  Sr. Caitriona Geraghty OP

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