SR-2019-06-02

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
7th Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – June 2, 2019


CHRIST IS RISEN!

EASTER TIME:
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.

7th Sunday of Easter Theme: The Image of Jesus Keeps Us Together.

Just as children are one in their parents and in their family, so Christians establish a similar oneness in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His Church. His image keeps us together as a family and in our Church, and His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, inspires us to go on establishing God’s Kingdom in ourselves and in all those entrusted to us. Today’s Scripture readings deal with our oneness in Christ.

“If we get to heaven, wouldn’t it be terrible if we saw a family member or loved one being rejected and having them see us and exclaim – when we were together why didn’t you tell me about this wonderful place (i.e. tell me about Jesus)?”


Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 7:55-60     St. Stephen is martyred as Saul looks on.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 97:1-2,6-7,9     The Lord is King over all the earth.

Reading 2 – Revelation 22:12-14,16-17,20    St. John prays – “Come, Lord Jesus”.

Gospel John 17:20-26     Jesus prays for us!


This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, LoyolaPress.com, CatholicCulture.org, 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 7:55-60                           (St. Stephens’ Martyrdom)

Context – The history of the early Church is represented in the New Testament by the Book of Acts written by St. Luke. Today we hear of the stoning of Stephen, a Gentile who became the first Christian martyr and who was later made a saint. Stephen was one of the first seven deacons; having been ordained by the Apostles to help provide for the needs of the community. In addition to his duties in the daily distribution of food, he did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Today’s reading – Stephen was arrested, placed before the Sanhedrin, and is then stoned to death because he condemned the Jews. He pointed out how the Jews have always persecuted their prophets and have even betrayed and murdered the One (Jesus) sent to fulfill all the Old Testament prophesies. Reading 1 begins right after Stephen makes this condemnation. At his execution he paralleled Jesus’ composure on the Cross, when, as each was about to die, each both forgave their executioners and commended (entrusted) themselves to God.


Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit [i], looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God [ii].” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. [iii] The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul [iv]. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them;” and when he said this, he fell asleep.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         Stephen’s actions manifest (show) just how one acts when they are filled with the Holy Spirit. There is no firm factual information available on how he became a convert to Christianity.


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 97:1-2, 6-7, 9                       (The Glory of God’s Kingship)

Context – Hymn celebrating God’s Kingship. One can imaging St. Stephen proclaiming this Psalm.

Today’s Psalm – The image of our God as a King and we being a member of His Kingdom, keeps us all together as one people.


R. – The Lord is King, the Most High over all the earth.
The LORD is King; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. Justice and judgment are the foundation of His throne.
R. – The Lord is King, the Most High over all the earth.
The heavens proclaim His justice; all peoples see His glory. All who serve idols are put to shame
[v], who glory in worthless things; all gods bow down before Him.
R. – The Lord is King, the Most High over all the earth.
You, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods.
R. – The Lord is King, the Most High over all the earth
.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 


Reading 2     Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20           (Come Lord Jesus)

Context – The wise reader of Revelation is less concerned with the intricate symbolism then with the Holy Spirit who penetrates it all and gives it meaning. Our reading today comes from the closing verses of the book of Revelation.

Today’s reading -St. John himself, as the author of the narrative, exclaimed as his final prayer in today’s text, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” His prayer was for a swift and glorious end to the persecutions. We pray for a full and holy life. We pray that our lived faith and our embrace of the Gospel might bring out our best and help others encounter the wise and loving Jesus Christ.


I, John, heard a voice saying to me: “Behold, I am coming soon [vi]. I bring with Me the recompense (reward) I will give to each according to his deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” [vii]

Blessed [viii] are they who wash their robes [ix] so as to have the right to the Tree of Life [x] and enter the city (Heaven) through its gates.

“I, Jesus, sent My angel (Holy Spirit) to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.” [xi]

The Holy Spirit and the bride (the Church) say, “Come.” [xii] Let the hearer say, “Come.” Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.

The one who gives this testimony says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         Catechism 451 – Christian prayer is characterized by the title “Lord”, whether in the invitation to prayer (“The Lord be with you”), its conclusion (“through Christ our Lord”) or the exclamation full of trust and hope: Maran atha (“Our Lord, come!”) or Marana tha (“Come, Lord!”) – “Amen Come Lord Jesus!”


Gospel     John 17:20-26                   (Jesus Prays for Us)

Today’s reading – This chapter of John (called the Priestly Prayer of Jesus) contains the conclusion of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse at the end of the Last Supper, prior to His arrest. Here Jesus prays for the same blessings for us, that He made to the Heavenly Father (in prior versus 15 and 16) for His Apostles. “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, ...” (“through their word” meaning those of us who profess that Jesus is our Savior and is the Son of God).


Lifting up His eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “Holy Father, I pray not only for them (apostles), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one, as We are One, I in them and You in Me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that You sent Me, and that You loved them even as You loved Me. [xiii] Father, they are Your gift to Me. I wish that where I am they also may be with Me, that they may see My glory that You gave Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know You, but I know You, and they know that You sent Me. I made known to them Your name and I will make it known, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them and I in them.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 


Catechism – 820 “Christ bestowed unity on His Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.” Christ always gives His Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus Himself prayed at the hour of His Passion, and does not cease praying to His Father, for the unity of His disciples: “That they may all be one. As You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, may they also be one in Us, . . . so that the world may know that You have sent me.” The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.


[i] Reading 1 Endnotes:
“filled with the Holy Spirit” = This means being transformed by the Holy Spirit resulting in our thoughts and deeds becoming holy, that we love and defend that which is holy, that we be ever confirmed to the Divine Will in both good and bad times, and that we reverentially and worshipfully fear the Lord.
[ii] “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” = Though normally mentioned as seated upon His throne at the right hand of God, here Jesus stands up to give Stephen a royal welcome.
[iii] “They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.” = Stoning outside the city was prescribed for blasphemers.
[iv] “The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul” = This man Saul was a Christian terrorizer but was later converted and became St. Paul! So why did they lay their cloaks next to Saul? You could assume they recognized Saul as the “ring leader” and wanted him to know that they were “on his side”, “one of his gang” – typical mob rule, involving violence and intimidation.
[v] Responsorial Psalm Endnote:
“All who serve idols are put to shame” = These are idolaters who will realize their folly by being put to shame. Psalm 96:5 – “For the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.”
[vi] Reading 2 Endnotes:
“Behold, I am coming soon” = No one knows the day nor the hour of Jesus’ Second Coming for our judgment. However, the phrase “coming soon” should get our attention and provide a motive for our always living an obedient life. We must always be prepared, i.e. living in a state of grace.
[vii] “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” = The first associated with the last signifies totality; the creator and the end of everything.
[viii] “Blessed” = There are seven Beatitudes mentioned in Revelation.
[ix] “wash their robes” = Meaning – repent of their sins.
[x] “have the right to Tree of Life” = Jesus, in the Eucharist, is the fruit of the Tree of Life, and the Cross is the New Tree of Life.
[xi] “I am the Root and offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.” = The Root and offspring of David refers to Jesus being the proclaimed Messiah. The Bright Morning star refers to the planet (now called Venus) which is visible just before daybreak. It was a symbol of victory in pagan antiquity that later became a symbol of Christ’s Resurrection and victory over death.
[xii]The Holy Spirit and the bride (the Church) say, “Come.” = “Come” is addressed to Jesus.
[xiii] Gospel Endnote:
“that the world may know that You sent Me, and that You loved them even as You loved Me.” = “God created us in His image and allows our soul to know in a clear way how much He loves it.” (St. Faustina’s Diary on Divine Mercy, section #767)