5th Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – May 19, 2019


Liturgical Color – White (Stands for light, innocence, purity, joy, triumph, and glory.)
Purpose –
This is the great 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead and ending with His sending forth of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

5th Sunday of Easter Theme: Good New Things.

Today’s readings speak about: the “Good News”, good works, a new heaven, a new earth, a new Church, and a new commandment – Love (charity).

“The growing knowledge of and the love of Christ, above all, prepares us to follow His call.” (St Ignatius)

“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all of our neighbors’ defects—not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.” (St. Therese of Lisieux)

Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27     Paul and Barnabas proclaim the Good News in many places.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145:8-13     A psalm of thanksgiving to God for His goodness and salvation.

Reading 2 – Revelation 21:1-5a     John describes his vision of a new heaven and a new earth.

Gospel John 13:31-33a,34-35    Jesus gives His disciples a new commandment: love one another.

This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal,,, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.

NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following. Endnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the endnotes appear at the end of this document. 

Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27                        (Conversion of the Gentiles)

Context – Paul has concluded his first of three missionary journeys. He along with Barnabas, are now retracing their steps back home. Along the way, they pay a pastoral visit to churches that they had founded and formed.

Today’s reading – The last church founded on this first journey is the church at Derbe where they proclaim the Good News of Christ. Then on their way home from this journey they visit their previous churches and encourage the newly formed communities to persevere – even if suffering comes their way, as it most surely will.

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the Good News [i] to that city (Derbe) and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” They appointed elders [ii] for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith. Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles [iii].

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” But why is this necessary? Why suffering?

At root, the word suffering means enduring pain or distress, sustaining loss or damage, being subject to disability or sickness, and ultimately submitting to death. It comes in all shapes. Daily nuisances frustrate us. Repeated failures discourage us. Bills we cannot pay pressure us. A disintegrating relationship racks us. Depression defeats us. Violence wounds us or harms a loved one. Illness ravages us or overtakes a family member. Suffering afflicts everybody. Jesus not only promised suffering; He also made bearing personal crosses a daily requirement for all of His followers: Luke 9:23 “Then He said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily* and follow Me”.
The answer to “why suffering” is still a mystery. So, let’s focus upon “how to deal with suffering”. = Faith, prayer, hope, and get good help.

Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 145:8-13                   (The Goodness of God’s Kingdom)

This is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for His goodness and salvation.

R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger
[iv] and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all His works.[v]
R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.
Let all Your works give You thanks, O LORD, and let Your faithful ones bless You. Let them discourse of the glory of Your Kingdom and speak of Your might.
R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.
Let them make known Your might to the children of Adam, and the glorious splendor of Your Kingdom. Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages, and Your dominion endures through all generations.
R. – I will praise Your name for ever, my King and my God.

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Reading 2     Revelation 21:1-5a                (Gods’ New Dwelling)

Context – Because of the “end of the world” terminology used in this passage, many have mistakenly assumed that Saint John is speaking of the final end of heaven and earth. It correctly means, because of Jesus’ earthly life and resurrection, humanity now has a change to its understanding of the substance (essence, meaning) of heaven and earth – that is, the conclusion of the Temple of the Old Covenant presided over by Moses, and the institution of the Church of the New Covenant, over which Jesus presides as our High Priest.

Today’s reading – John presents us with this final vision – an understanding of a new heaven and a new earth when all the enemies of God will be destroyed. The old order will pass away and the sea (the place of chaos and evil) will be no more. The New Jerusalem is imaged as God’s Bride, ie. the new Church. God is imaged as one living in the midst of His people – loving them and they loving Him.

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth [vi]. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea [vii] was no more. I also saw the Holy City, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God Himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”

The One who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.(The Speaker here is God Himself.)

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Gospel     John 13:31-33a, 34-35                  (The New Commandment – Love)

Today’s reading – The time of this reading is at the Last Supper just after Jesus has predicted His betrayal and prior to their leaving for His “Agony in the Garden” of Gethsemane.

Jesus’ “hour” has come. The events of salvation are about to begin. Jesus begins by speaking about His “glorification,” i.e., His passion, death and resurrection. Jesus says, “the Son of man is glorified and God is glorified in Him.” The Son of Man is glorified both in His willingness to obey God even unto death and in the fact that God will glorify Him by making His sacrifice effective for the salvation of all. By pouring out His life for us, Jesus not only saves us, but also gives us a perfect example of what love is.

Then Jesus speaks to His disciples about a new commandment – to love one another. What is new about Jesus’ commandment is that it calls His followers to show the same self-sacrificing love that He has shown them.

When Judas had left them, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified [viii], and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and God will glorify Him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (The living out of this new commandment is to become the distinctive mark of the Christian community among outsiders. – St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church)

PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism 2842 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Holy Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.

Catechism 1825 – Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.” The Lord asks us to love as He does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ Himself.  –  The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of love (charity): “love is patient and kind, love is not  jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

[i] Reading 1 Endnotes:
“Good News” = This is the whole teaching of Christianity, which those who believe accept with their faith (minds and strive to put into practice, i.e. obedience). It is “news” because what Christ revealed had previously been hidden from the foundation of the world; and it was “good” because it revealed the infinite goodness of God, who became man and because, through Christ, all the benefits of divine grace have been conferred on a fallen human race. The “Good News” is an instrument (a means whereby something is achieved) of salvation.
[ii] “elders” = Leaders, not necessarily of old age.
[iii] “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” = This figure of speech, “door of faith,” signifies the access to salvation that God had given the Gentiles.
[iv] Responsorial Psalm Endnotes:
“slow to anger” = God is patient with us. God’s anger prolongs itself, allowing for people to repent before punishment is inflicted. Thanks be to God!
[v] “The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all His works.” = We are part of His works.
[vi] Reading 2 Endnotes:
“Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth” = “new” meaning being changed, not as to their substance, but in their qualities. This was prophesized by Isaiah – see 65:17 “See, I am creating new heavens and a new earth; The former things shall not be remembered nor come to mind”. and 66:22 “From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, All flesh (Jews and Gentiles/ Christians and non-Christians/conservatives and liberals/…) shall come to worship before me, says the LORD.
[vii] “sea” = “sea” is a symbol of turbulence and unrest.
[viii] Gospel Endnote:
“glorify” = Reveal the essence (true nature) of; and – praise; glorify; honor; adore; worship.