(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, May 14, 2017)
Fifth Sunday of Easter
As Scripture says, "To those who love God, all things work together for good." In today's first reading, we see what could have been a serious division in the early Christian community become the cause for an important development in its growth. There were two languages spoken by the new followers of Christ. Those called Hebrews by St. Luke spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, while those called Hellenists in this reading spoke Greek. Tensions were bound to arise since each group had different ways of thinking and acting.
All this came to the boiling point when the Hellenists felt discriminated against in the care given their widows. Very wisely, the Twelve decided to formally establish a new ministry of "table servers" (later known as deacons), so that they themselves could devote themselves entirely to prayer and preaching. They imposed hands on seven men of outstanding reputation. Actually, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they did much more than wait on tables. In this way, God used a crisis in charity to further the effectiveness of Church in spreading the word.
The Second Reading from the First Letter of St. Peter uses the image of "stone" or "rock." Peter, referring to Isaiah's prophecy, tells us that God the Father long ago had established His Son, Jesus, as the "cornerstone, chosen and precious." Peter, with warm and welcoming tone, urges us to come with hope and trust to the living stone of salvation, and there to become ourselves a holy temple. Now, it's not all breadfruit and salt-fish! There's a price to pay. Through our own sufferings, we may offer sacrifice and praise to the Father along with the Son.
Then comes a warning! Just as many have rejected this rock of salvation to their own condemnation, so too, if we attempt to bypass Christ, we will ourselves stumble and fall. Peter quotes Isaiah as his authority for referring to Christ as a stumbling block to those who reject Him. All this will become clear on the Day of Judgment.
The Gospel is taken from the wonderful farewell address of Jesus to his apostles at the Last Supper. Here, he tells them not to be afraid, for after much trial, the kingdom with its many dwelling places will be theirs. A good teacher loves students who ask a lot of questions. We're forever indebted to Philip who complains to Jesus that he doesn't know the way to the kingdom.
Answer, Jesus gives us one of his most quotable quotes: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." We could spend a lifetime exhausting the meaning of that sentence. It's "Christology" in a nutshell. It means that we'll never walk alone, that God will protect us against evil on the journey, that we'll always be able to know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong and that, best of all, if we are faithful to the end, we will live life to the full—now and forever.
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor