"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 6, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

(Chapter 6:1-7)

In the early Christian community, there was often tension between the Hebrews and the Helleniststhe Greeks. In this reading, we hear a complaint from the Hellenists “because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution (of food). 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.’” This appointment of what we now call deacons is the first record of an ordination, and it made it possible to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the whole community.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19)

“Lord, let your mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you.” Pope Francis has certainly become our “Mercy Pope.” He often talks about God’s mercy as a powerful force in his life and ours. When he was a young priest in Argentina, he failed to stand up for two of his fellow priests during a time of political terror. Afterward, he regretted this, but he experienced God’s mercy in a powerful way, and ever since he has tried to share this message with all.

A reading from the First Letter of Peter

(Chapter 2:4-9)

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.

The Jewish people always understood themselves as a “chosen people,” and now Peter is saying that Christians, too, will be ”a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

(Chapter 14:1-12)

John, writing many years after the death of Jesus, wants to let everyone know who Jesus really was. The disciples certainly believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and now John is saying much more.

In this account, Jesus says to Thomas, “’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 my Father and the Father is in me? … Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?’”

Later, John writes that Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” That’s it. There is a unity between the Father and the Son that is so close that seeing one is seeing the other, and “seeing” either is seeing the Holy Spirit. This is something so hard to comprehend that people still have trouble grasping it after two thousand years. But that is the point: we do not grasp it; we live in it. We live in and are nourished by living in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.


Painting: The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (1681-81) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. National Gallery, London. Public Domain.

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Father Son and Holy Spirit, Fifth Sunday of Easter, Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Holy Trinity

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on May 1, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 

(Chapter 9:26-31)

Let us try to imagine for a moment what it was like to be a Christian in the early years after the death of Jesus. The Romans targeted Christians as strange and possibly dangerous fanatics. Most Jews saw them as a danger to their faith and to their very lives if they were seen by the Romans as being at all sympathetic to this new movement. We know that Saul was a persecutor of Christians and that he had some sort of conversion experience on his way to Damascus where he had planned to help suppress Jesus’ disciples. Of course, people were afraid of him. He was a personification of the enemy, so Barnabas must have been well respected and trusted to get the community to accept the man now known as Paul.

It is amazing how someone we do not trust, someone we may even despise, can have a change of heart and become a friend or ally. Without Paul there would be no Roman Catholic Church as we know it. Redemption is possible, even for a persecutor, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 22)

“I will praise you Lord, in the assembly of your people.” That is exactly what we are doing in church today and every day that we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Fifth Sunday of Easter, Jesus Christ, RENEW International, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

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