The 6th Sunday of Easter – May 9th, 2021
Lectionary readings: Acts 10:25-26. 34-35. 44-48; Ps 98:1-4; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17
Theme: I call you friends!
Jesus, in his discourse on the night before his death, spoke in terms of promise and relationship. He reassured his apostles that his leaving would not mean abandonment: “I will not leave you orphans,” (14:18). His presence would always be with them and with the community of the Church to whom God has given his Spirit. “I do not call you servants anymore….instead I call you friends because I told you everything I heard from my Father” (15:15). He emphatically informed them that they would possess all the powers they needed to be his apostles and to spread the gospel, the good news, to the whole world. Peter proclaimed this message when he declared to the crowd that Jesus had risen from the dead and that they were witnesses to this (Acts 3:15). “The apostles are chosen witnesses to proclaim Jesus; all experience forgiveness of sins through believing in Jesus.” (Levine, p. 220) Christian faith is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, on the testimony given by them.
In our reading from Acts, we witness the work of the Spirit through the mediation of Jesus in the meeting of Peter and Cornelius, a Roman centurion. Each had received a distinct and compelling vision. For the centurion, it was an answer to his prayer (Acts 10:4), and for Peter, it was the transforming moment when he came to realize that whatever God has made, one must not call profane (Acts 10:15). In like manner when Peter met Cornelius the following day, he firmly announced, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:14). “To be God’s people is no longer constituted by the ethnic division between Jew and Gentile but by religious distinction, those do/do not fear God and do what is right.” (Levine, p. 220)
Relationships are basic to Jesus’ teaching: the relationship with God, with Jesus, and with one another. Today’s Gospel from John is truly a relationship passage. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you, abide in my love.” (15:9) Therefore they/we share not only the love but the joy of the Giver. The word, ‘abide’ from the Greek, meno, means to remain, to stand fast, to stay. This close, intimate relationship of the Father and the Son, invites the individual followers into their fellowship.
After the resurrection, Jesus opened the minds of the apostles and they came to understand the significance of Jesus’ teaching and actions. John summarizes this message, “By this, we know love because he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1John 3:16). The group of believers became a closely-knit community, ‘one in mind and heart’ (Acts 4:32) and conscious of the blessing of Christ’s gifts of grace to them. Today’s psalm reiterates this message, “He kept his promise to the people of Israel with loyalty and constant love for them (Ps. 98:3).
For Reflection and Discussion: What can a faith community do to help people better understand how to live out their love for Jesus in the practical actions of their daily lives?
Bibliography: Brown, Raymond E., An Introduction to the New Testament, (Doubleday, New York, 1997) Levine, Amy J. & Brettler, Marc Zvi, The Jewish Annotated New Testament, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 2011).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Rita Kammermayer, Canada, Bat Kol Alumna: 2001