Fifth Sunday of Easter 7th May 2023
Acts 6:1-7, Psalm 32, 1 Peter 2:4-9, JN 14:1-12
In today’s Readings, we are called to join in the royal Priesthood of God. From before time began, we were called and chosen by God to join in His ministry and to bring others closer to God through evangelization.
In the first reading of Acts 6:1-7, the nature and mission of the Church is highlighted through the importance of unity, servant leadership, delegation, and the power of the Holy Spirit. In the early Church there was a problem of disunity which needed to be addressed. The apostles called the community of believers together and elected seven reputable men to join in the ministry and to work for unity in the Church. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and with wisdom. In the Church today, we are called to serve the community where the marginalized and the poor are concerned. The model of communal decision making and problem solving is something that can be applied in many areas of our lives both within and outside of the Church.
In the second reading of 1 Peter 2:4-9, Jesus, the cornerstone which was rejected by many has proved to be the key stone. We are called to follow Him closely and to trust Him in our mission. Sometimes insignificant things in life could make us stumble because we lack faith. However, if we are called by God to come out of our darkness into His wonderful light then we need to stand firm and share in Christ’s royal priesthood without doubt bringing the Good News of God’s love and truth.
The Gospel of Jn 14:1-12, gives us hope in the Resurrection of Jesus. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is now seated at God’s right hand, preparing a place for us. This gospel is very comforting as it always seems to be read at funerals. “There are many rooms in my Father’s house…I am now going to prepare a place for you…” The comforting words of Jesus to His disciples about “trust” and “do not be afraid”, just before He went back to His Father, gives them the reassurance of everlasting joy with Him when He comes to take them to Himself forever in Heaven. These are words of strength and hope. They were to continue His mission with vigour and determination until He comes again.
Jesus tests the faith of His disciples when He says to them “You know the place where I am going”. Thomas, the very one who would refuse to believe later that Jesus rose from the dead, gives Jesus a shallow response when he says “Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus affirms that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one can come to the Father except through Him. Phillip, in his human capacity is curious to see the Father. Once he has seen the Father, then he will be satisfied. Our human nature sometimes seems to get the better of us. We need concrete evidence before we are satisfied to believe. Jesus said, “Have I been with you all this time Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (14:9). Here Jesus echoes an affirmation from the prologue of John’s Gospel: “No one has ever seen God. It is God’s only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart (literally, in the bosom of the Father), who has made him known” (1:18).
The whole of Jesus’ mission was to make known who the Father is. All His works and the miracles He performed was directly from the Father. He and the Father are one. Jesus entrusts His mission to His disciples to continue His work because He was going to the Father. He ensures them that they will perform even greater works than these. If they ask anything in His name, He will do it so that the Son can be glorified in the Father. (14:13-14).
Was Jesus in His right mind when He said this? Would His disciples really perform greater works than the works He did? This is mind boggling. No one can raise the dead, give sight to the blind, make the deaf hear and the mute speak, other than Jesus. We have all known the pain of praying for someone who is seriously ill, and they do not recover; or asking God to alleviate hunger and poverty in the world but people are still dying every day; or stopping the war in the Ukraine, yet there is endless violence and hatred among nations and leaders seem to delight in corruption and power. How can these promises be true? As human nature dictates, we tend to think that we would also be able to do these miraculous deeds that Jesus did, but even so, this is no guarantee that this would increase our faith. Even in Jesus’ day, many signs and wonders were performed by Jesus and yet many witnesses did not believe.
Towards the end of the gospel, Thomas sees the Risen Lord and says “My Lord and my God” (20:28). Jesus says, “You believe because you can see Me Thomas. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”. We are those whom Jesus called “blessed”, even though our believing seems at times to be feeble and weak.
Jesus promises to be with us in our mission in the world to continue His purpose. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and through the Spirit, we can see the abundance of God’s mercy through forgiveness and reconciliation, through the abundance of life, and through social justice. Wherever we see goodness in the world, God is present, and His promises are fulfilled.
No one has ever seen God, yet Jesus who is close to the Father’s heart has made the Father known to us in our neighbour. He has entrusted His mission to us to also make Him known to all people.
For further reflection:
- How can we see Jesus at work in our midst?
- How can we make the heart of God known to people?
Sr. Columbia Fernandez OP