May 23, 2019
Today is the last Sunday of the Sundays of Easter. Today there is also a collection for the Pope’s Pastoral Works: please dig deeply and give generously for these great works. The Scripture readings today are very very rich and graced: please do not rush through them but reflectively really digest them as you prepare for Mass. At the Mass itself, please get there a few minutes earlier and pray to the Holy Spirit of the Risen Lord to open your ears and the ears of the others at Mass to really hear God’s Word today.
Today’s Communion Antiphon tells us Christ promises to send His Spirit upon us (what we celebrate more fully on Pentecost Sunday this June 9); now use this Spirit as you go through the following commentary on today’s readings.
Note that Jesus is going away and today He comforts His disciples – and us; so whatever He says today is of utmost importance. Be sure to note He PROMISES us His gifts of peace, certainty, joy, and the Holy Spirit.
The First Reading shows us circumcision as a very important element and sign of God’s Covenant with the Jewish people; however, it is replaced in the Christian Community with the Sacrament of Baptism. The early Christians were Jews who converted but this transition was not an easy one. “What is strangled” are animals sacrificed and offered up to God. There is no need for this anymore now that Jesus has been “strangled” for us and rose from the dead for us.
The First Reading contains a clear official statement of the early Church. Note that it wishes not to burden the Christian Community – something the Church often forgot in history. Thank God for our present pope, Pope Francis, who understands this is not to be done!
The Responsorial Psalm shouts (to God) let all the peoples praise you. This theological hope is behind a great deal of Pope Francis’ efforts to make the Church more inclusive. In today’s Eucharistic context it is our mission to spread the Word everywhere about Christ’s (Death and) Resurrection. Note that “Alleluia” can also be used as our Responsorial for the Psalm: “Alleluia” means “praise You Yahweh.”
The Second Reading continues the vision of Saint John from Revelation over the past Sundays of Easter. Remember that in the biblical text the repetition or re-use of any theme or particular aspect is a literal way to highlight importance. In the reading, note how often the number 12 pops up: it is a blessed number of fullness common to Judaism, and early Christianity borrowing from Judaism.
Note in this Reading that there is no Temple in the new city coming down from Heaven. The Christian belief here is that the Temple is the Lord God Almighty (the person of the Blessed Trinity we call God the Father/Mother) and the Lamb (Jesus Christ). Note what is said about it in the next sentence. In Judaism God is so awesome that we do not try to have any intimacy with God because the level of respect requires this does not happen; here the emphasis is on the respect needed. In Christianity this is not the case because we strive to be intimate with God and do not see this as disrespectful. We Christians hear God saying to us, “Come closer to me, my Love, so I can bless you!” I am not going to state which approach is better in regards to this question which can be endless but I rejoice in the fact I have been given the gift of Christian/Catholic belief.
In the Gospel Jesus speaks to His disciples. What He says is very clear and easy to understand. At Mass hear the Risen One speaking directly to you – and then do what He asks.
Loving God, restore us to eternal life, in the Resurrection of Christ. (Prayer After Communion) Amen!