Sunday Readings Reflections

SR-2019-05-26

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
6th Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – May 26, 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.

6th Sunday of Easter Theme: Continuity & Renewal By the Guidance of the Holy Spirit.

As our celebration of the Easter season is coming to an end, the liturgy reminds us that Jesus remains with us through the Holy Spirit, who teaches us everything we need to know, reminds us of all that Jesus taught, and brings us peace. And He guides us in the continuity and renewal – of our individual faith, and for that of our Church.

“The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Holy is really a synonym for expressing these qualities of God. Each of these words describes what God intended for fully evolved human beings to be. We are the only species whose nature is not a blueprint but an invitation.” (Fr. William J. O’Malley SJ)


Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2,22-29     The early Church community determines, with the help of the Holy Spirit, how to maintain continuity along with renewal.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8     Praise God for His teachings and salvation.

Reading 2 – Revelation 21:10-14,22-23     The vision of the splendor of the heavenly Jerusalem is described.

Gospel John 14:23-29     Jesus promises His disciples that the Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.


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 15:1-2, 22-29                             (Settling a Dispute)

Context – The Sanhedrin was the ruling council for the Jewish faith. Likewise, the early Christians formed the Council of Jerusalem as a similar ruling authority for the new Church. A major goal of this Council of Jerusalem was to ensure continuity with their Jewish heritage while also ensuring renewal from the teachings of Jesus and from the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Today’s reading – The Council of Jerusalem is called upon to answer the questions, raised by the Judaizers in the new Church, about what Jewish customs would the Gentile converts be required to adhere to, such as customs relative to circumcision, marriage, edible foods, blood of animals, etc.


Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. [i] The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them:

“The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         LAITY – It is interesting that Paul and Barnabas selected laity representatives to be part of the decision-making meeting with the apostles. The apostles and the laity, together, rule the new Church. No clericalism here!


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8                       (Praise God for His Teachings and Salvation)

A prayer for the propagation of the Church.


R. – O God, let all the nations praise You!
May God have pity on us and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us. So may Your Way be known upon earth; among all nations, Your salvation.
R. – O God, let all the nations praise You!
May the nations be glad and exult because You rule the peoples in equity; the nations on the earth You guide.
R. – O God, let all the nations praise You!
May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You! May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him!
R. – O God, let all the nations praise You!


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          ”So may Your Way be known upon earth; among all nations, Your salvation.” – By knowing God’s way, i.e. through Jesus’ teachings and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we should live our lives and manage and develop our Church, all resulting in our salvation.


Reading 2     Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23                            (The City of God)     

Context – The wise reader of Revelation is less concerned with the intricate symbolism then with the Holy Spirit which penetrates it all. This Chapter of Revelation is about the new Heavenly Jerusalem. (New Heavenly Jerusalem = a change from the perception of the Old Testament people to the perception of the New Testament people as a result of Jesus’ earthly life, death, and resurrection – that is, continuity with renewal.)

Today’s reading – This is St. John’s description of the new Heavenly Jerusalem. We must remember that it was Jesus’ mission to go to the earthly Jerusalem to offer His sacrifice; so that we could find the path which we must follow to reach the Heavenly Jerusalem and dwell with Him forever. Jesus is the Cornerstone of this new Jerusalem and the foundation stones are the twelve Apostles. The twelve Apostles replace the twelve Tribal Leaders of old Jerusalem.


The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the Holy City Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. [ii]

I saw no temple in the city for its Temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the Glory of God gave it light, and its Lamp was the Lamb.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     John 14:23-29                               (The Gift of Peace)

Today’s reading – Having heard last week of Jesus giving us a new commandment, to love one another, we rejoin Jesus and the apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus is instructing His apostles of the things to come. The Christian’s life is not shaped by Jesus’ absence but by God’s abiding presence through the Holy Spirit.


Jesus said to His disciples: “Whoever loves Me will keep My Word [iii], and My Father will love him, and We will come to Him and make Our dwelling with Him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My Words; yet the Word you hear is not Mine but that of the Father who sent Me.

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. [iv] Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. [v] You heard Me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         This chapter of John along with John:15 and 16 identify all the wonderful blessings that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father will bestow upon Jesus’ apostles. … Then we get Good News for us, because in John:17 20-26, Jesus asks God for the same blessings for us – “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 the Son of God).

Catechism 691 – “Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the One whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. The Church has received this Name from the Lord and professes it in the Baptism of her new children.

Catechism 692 – When He proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls Him the “Paraclete,” literally, “He who is called to one’s side,”. “Paraclete” is commonly translated by “consoler,” and Jesus is the first Consoler. The Lord also called the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Truth.”

Catechism 693 – Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the Promise, the Spirit of Adoption, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord, and the Spirit of God – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of Glory.



[i] Reading 1 Endnote:
“Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.” = Jerusalem being the location of the new central church (i.e. Council of Jerusalem) made up of Peter as leader with the original apostles and disciples.
[ii] Reading 2 Endnote:
“ The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” = Do you think Judas’ name was included in the “twelve names of the apostles” or was it replaced by Matthias?
[iii] Gospel Endnotes:
“Jesus said to His disciples: “Whoever loves Me will keep My Word” = The proof of love is its manifestation of deeds (e.g. observe the Commandments and Beatitudes). Our love is true if we keep our Free Will in check according to His Commandments. (St. Pope Gregory The Great)
[iv] “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” = After Christ’s ascension, it will be the function of the Holy Spirit to complete the revelation of Christ by enlightening the Church and us concerning the true and full meaning of what Jesus had done and said. This function was not completed when the New Testament was written but continues today as the Church continues to guide and teach – ie. continuity and renewal.
[v] “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” = I heard Mother Angelica preach on this statement. She said that Jesus did not say that He would not trouble your heart nor make you afraid. What He said was don’t you trouble your heart nor make yourself afraid. Stay calm and “trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will set your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) And as St. Faustina’s Diary teaches us about Divine Mercy – “Jesus I trust in You.”


 

SR-2019-05-19

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
5th Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – May 19, 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.

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, 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 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.


SR-2019-05-12

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
4th Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – May 12, 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.

4th Sunday of Easter Theme: The Lord Is My Sheherd.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Our Good Shepherd, Jesus, gives us all the help we need to persevere in our trials and tribulations.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”


Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 13:14,43-52     Paul and Barnabas overcome trials to preach the Word of the Lord among the Jews and Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 100:1-3,5     A song in praise of God who shepherds us.

Reading 2 – Revelation 7:9,14b-17     John describes his vision of the praises that the holy ones sing to the Lamb of God.

Gospel – John 10:27-30     Jesus describes His care for His sheep.


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. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document.


Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52                  (Preaching the Word of the Lord)

Today’s reading –   In the early chapters of Acts, Peter has center stage. In the later chapters of Acts, Paul’s missionary journeys are highlighted. During these journeys, Paul always tried to reach his own people, the Jews, first. Hence, the reference to him preaching in the Synagogue. Only when his own people rejected him, did he turn to the Gentiles.


Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats. Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.

On the following Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the Lord. [i] When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the Word of God be spoken to you first (ie. the Jews), but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the Word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life [ii] came to believe, and the Word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas [iii], and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them [iv], and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first (i.e. the Jews)” – Why did Paul say this? The answer, in the following, is from JewsforJesus.org:
When God in the Hebrew Scriptures refers to us Jews as chosen (i.e. to be first), He’s saying that He selected us to serve a specific purpose and to carry out a particular task. Primarily, God selected our people to bless the world with His revelation of Himself. Through the Jewish people, God gave the world the Scriptures, and then the Messiah of whom the Scriptures speak. “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:3-6)
A kingdom of priests? God planned to establish a kingdom of priests so that the rest of the nations might learn who He is and come to worship Him. Who were the priests and what did they do? In the ancient world, they instructed people about God and interceded for people before God. Now, if the entire nation of Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests, then what other people were we supposed to instruct and intercede for? Well, who’s left? The rest of the nations of the earth. At Sinai, we received more than the Law of Moses; we received a mandate, rooted in God’s desire to see his revelation go out to all the families of the earth.
Scripture references: Nehemiah 9:7 says “God . . . chose Abram, and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldeans.” Deuteronomy 14:2 says about the whole Jewish people, “The Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” And Amos 3:2 says, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth.”
So, why did God choose the Hebrews? Please see Footnote #2 about biblical mysteries.


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 100:1-3, 5                 (We Are the Sheep of His Flock)

This is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for His goodness to Israel (Old Testament meaning) plus it is a suitable psalm for Paul and Barnabas as they saw the Gentiles open their hearts to the Gospel (New Testament meaning).


R. – We are His people, the sheep of His flock.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands
(Both Jews and Gentiles); serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful song.
R. – We are His people, the sheep of His flock.
Know that the LORD is God; He made us, His we are; His people, the flock He tends.
R. – We are His people, the sheep of His flock.
The LORD is good: His kindness endures forever, and His faithfulness, to all generations.
R. – We are His people, the sheep of His flock.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 


Reading 2     Revelation 7:9, 14b-17                       (The Lamb as Shephard)  

Today’s reading – In this reading we have Jesus, the victorious Lamb, surrounded by a huge crowd of people from every nation on earth. They listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow His ways despite difficulties and persecutions. Because of their faithfulness to Jesus, they will be safe forever and share in His divine life.


I, John, had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. [v]

Then one of the elders said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


“For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship Him day and night in His temple. The One who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will Shepherd them
[vi] and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     John 10:27-30                               (The Good Shepherd)

Today’s reading – In today’s Gospel, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, speaks of His relationship with His flock and with His Father. Jesus’ flock are those who hear His voice and follow it. Then Jesus makes two bold promises. He will give eternal life to those who are His sheep, and He will not allow anyone to take them away from Him – assuming of course that they continue to listen to His voice (ie. persevere in obedience in both good times and bad). Because Jesus has power over death, He can offer His followers eternal life. Those who heed His voice will never perish, nor will they be snatched away from Him.


Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.
Jesus is referred to as a Shepherd and a Lamb. We are referred to as sheep.
The image of shepherds is that they are kind, loving, patient, strong, and self-sacrificing. They are a good image for Jesus. The shepherd uses a staff with a hook on the end to guide the sheep and pull back the stray. Today Jesus guides his flock through bishops, who are known as pastors, the Latin for shepherds. Bishops carry staffs called crosiers. The shepherd has a rod to fend off wild animals that might harm the flock. Jesus saved us from evil. Jesus restores our souls. Shepherds feed their flocks. Jesus feeds us with the excellent bread of the Eucharist and brings us to living waters: baptism and the Holy Spirit.
In Christianity, the lamb represents Christ as both suffering and triumphant; it is typically a sacrificial animal, and may also symbolize gentleness, innocence, and purity. In addition, the lamb symbolizes sweetness, forgiveness and meekness.
Sheep are really good at just a few things. They are good at drowning, being defenseless, and being utterly dependent upon the shepherd. They do provide wool and meat, but they can’t even take credit for that since their Creator made them that way. Isaiah the Prophet nailed it when he wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Matthew wrote that when Jesus “saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36), and we’re helpless too…without Jesus as our Good Shepherd. (Christian Crier) And sheep, who can be rather stupid and foolish creatures, are a good symbol for us!

Catechism 754 – “The Church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God Himself foretold that He would be the Shepherd, and whose sheep, even though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ Himself, the Good Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave His life for His sheep.

[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
“On the following Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the Lord.” = There is great magnetism to hear the preaching of the Word of the Lord. Not only Jews, but a great many Gentiles, where also gathered, which exasperated the envious Jews. People will want to listen to something especially when they believe “there is something in it for them”.
[ii] “All who were destined for eternal life” = The true meaning of this phrase is a mystery. Calvinists claim this confirms their belief in predestination. The Haydock Catholic Bible commentary states – We don’t want to get ourselves tied-up in pre-destination theories. It would be better for us to submit our understandings to the obedience of faith, than entangle ourselves in a maze of abstruse errors, far removed from our comprehension. Per St. Augustine – “How much wiser and better is it to confess our ignorance on mysteries, than idly to dispute on mysteries!” However (sorry St. Augustine), I believe that we are all predestined because God created all of us, and those yet to come, in His Image (Genesis 1:27). That means to me, that He created us to be like Him and gave us the opportunity to be with Him forever. That is, if we use our Free Will to be faithful (obedient belief – which includes good works) to Him, we shall have eternal life. See – “Summa Of The Christian Life” by Venerable Louis of Granada, Chapter 13, “The Blessing of Predestination”.  
[iii] “stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas” = Recall the ninth Beatitude – “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”
[iv] “So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them” = Shaking the dust off one’s feet conveys the same idea as our modern phrase “I wash my hands of it.” Shaking the dust off the feet is a symbolic indication that one has done all that can be done in a situation and therefore carries no further responsibility for it. (From – GotQuestions.org) Remember when Pilot took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd and said – “I am innocent of this Man’s blood, It is your responsibility!”
[v] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.” = The white robes and palm branches symbolize righteousness and victory.
[vi] “For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will Shepherd them” = A paradox – the Lamb is a Shepherd.


SR-2019-05-05

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
3rd Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – May 5, 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.

3rd Sunday of Easter Theme: What an Impact a Resurrection Makes!

As a result of Christ’s resurrection, besides the enormous blessing of opening the gates of Heaven for us to have the possibility of eternal life with Him, today’s readings reveal that: The prophecies of this resurrection happening, have been validated and confirmed; The apostles are empowered, through the Holy Spirit within them, to preach about Jesus; The people are open to learning about and believing in Jesus; The elders are now worshiping Jesus; And, The Church of Jesus Christ has been established.

In fact, everything that exists and moves in the Church – the sacraments, doctrine, institutions – draws its strength from Christ’s Resurrection.(Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, “Life in Christ”)


Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32,40b-41     The apostles are brought before the Sanhedrin a second time and again ordered to stop speaking in Jesus’ name – but they don’t!

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 30:2,4-6,11-13     This is a prayer for deliverance from earthly tribulation.

Reading 2 – Revelation 5:11-14     John describes his vision of the praises that will be sung to the Lamb by every creature on heaven and earth.

Gospel John 21:1-19     Jesus appears to the disciples for a third time after His Resurrection.


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. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document.


Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41                         (Preaching the Name)

Today’s reading – Last Sunday we read about the apostles being arrested and told to stop preaching about Jesus. Today we learn that they continued to preach and are again arrested. Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus breathed upon them in the Upper Room after His resurrection, the Apostles will not be silenced. They proclaim that they must obey God rather than man and proclaim what they had witnessed.


When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that Name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this Man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had Him killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand [i] as Leader and Savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the Name. [ii]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         Who killed Jesus? The official Church teaching is clear that we do not blame all the Jews at the time of the Lord nor all of the Jews to this day. The Second Vatican Council in its “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” (“Nostra Aetate”) states, “Even though the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ, neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during His passion.” In summary, Pope Benedict XVI states that the real group of accusers were the current Temple authorities at that time along with the “crowd” of Barabbas’ supporters. 


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13                   (Divine Security)

David praises God for his deliverance, and for God’s merciful dealings with him.


R. – I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me. [iii]
I will extol You, O LORD, for You drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me. O LORD, You brought me up from the netherworld; You preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. – I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you His faithful ones, and give thanks to His holy Name. For His anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, His good will. At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. – I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me; O LORD, be my helper. You changed my mourning into dancing; O LORD, my God, forever will I give You thanks.
R. – I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Reading 2     Revelation 5:11-14                (The Throne of God)

Today’s reading – John visualizes a heavenly realm where there is a victory celebration taking place for Jesus, the victorious Lamb who has returned home to heaven and to God, having conquered sin and death. In the Eucharistic celebration, we sing of the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Our earthly liturgies seek to pattern themselves after the heavenly liturgy described here. Both seek to give fitting honor and praise to the Lamb of God.


I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb (Jesus) that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: “To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.” The four living creatures [iv] answered, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     John 21:1-19                     (Christ Is Lord)

Today’s Reading – Christ manifests Himself, again for a third time after His Resurrection, to His disciples. Last week we heard that Jesus appeared twice to the gathered disciples in the Upper Room. In today’s Gospel, the disciples are no longer in Jerusalem; they are in Galilee, returning to their work of fishing.

Possibly, in total bewilderment as what to do next, the Apostles return to their basic instinct to be fisherman (and Matthew went along, now knowing not to return to the evils of tax collecting). They fish all night but catch nothing, Jesus then “finds them in their need” and directs them to recast their nets. And they are mighty successful in their catch, as a result of following “the word of the Lord”. (This miraculous catch symbolizes the mission of the Apostles to persist in spreading Christianity, and the central role of Jesus in this mission.) Then, reminiscent of the Eucharist Meal on Holy Thursday, Jesus provides a meal for them. In closing, Jesus focuses His attention on Peter and reemphasizes Peter’s mission to establish His Church and for him to “Follow Me”.


At that time, Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias [v]. He revealed Himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of His disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered Him, “No.” So He said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. [vi] Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to His disciples after being raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.” [vii] He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, [viii] “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. [ix]   And when He had said this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         St. John says, above, “It is the Lord”. In last Sunday’s Gospel, St. Thomas said “My Lord and my God”. On Easter Sunday’s Gospel, St. Mary Magdalene said “They have taken the Lord from the tomb.”. Notice the reference to Jesus becomes “Lord” after His resurrection. Before this, He was called “Master”, Teacher”, “Rabbi”.
“Lord Jesus Christ” – the three names of one Person, Jesus, denoting His threefold office:
1. He is
 Lord, (King) a universal king or sovereign.
2. Jesus,
 (Savior) a priest or Savior.
3. Christ,
 (Messiah, Anointed One) a prophet, anointed with the Spirit and furnished with all gifts necessary for the instruction, guidance, and salvation of His church.


Catechism 645 – By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with His disciples. He invites them in this way to recognize that He is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which He appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of His Passion. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when He wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth, and belongs henceforth only to the Father’s divine realm. For this reason too, the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as He wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to His disciples, precisely to awaken their faith.



[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
“God exalted Him at His right hand” = This signifies a person being considered most relied upon, most valuable, most useful as an assistant.
[ii] “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the Name of Jesus” = The ninth Beatitude – “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
[iii] Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me.” = Think about the synonyms for the word “rescued” and then the impact of this statement becomes much more profound – saved, freed, liberated, come to the aid of, redeemed, ransomed, emancipated, kept from being lost or abandoned.
[iv] Reading 2 Footnote:
The four living creatures” = They represent all of life: the lion – mobility, the bull – strength, the man – wisdom, and the eagle – swiftness. (See Revelation 4:7 and Ezekiel 1:5,10)
[v] Gospel Footnotes:
“Sea of Tiberias” = Located in northeast Israel. It is also called the Sea of Galilee, Sea of Kinneret, and Lake of Gennesaret.
[vi] “So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.“ = This signifies Peter as the Pope bringing together to God the great number of people that will be converted by the labors of the apostles and our priests to this day.
[vii] “Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.”, Tend My sheep”, “Feed My sheep” = In all of this, Jesus is reaffirming to Peter to establish the Church of Jesus Christ. “Feed My lambs” refers to Peter’s care and direction of the apostles – When Jesus called to the Apostles from the shore (as mentioned in the Gospel reading), He referred to them as “children”. “Tend” and “Feed My sheep” refers to Peter’s role in establishing, guiding, ruling, and governing the Church and its faithful members.
[viii] “Jesus said to him the third time” = Some do not agree with the commentary as mentioned at Footnote #6, above, but believe this triple question is reminiscent of Peter’s triple denial. However, it’s possible that these denials were only “little white lies” by Peter so that he could stay in close proximity to Jesus during His arrest and trial and not be made to leave. After all, he was the one who raised his sword against the soldiers at the time of Jesus’ arrest. What do you think?
[ix] “by what kind of death he would glorify God” = Peter was martyred under Nero by being hung upside down on a cross sometime during 64-68 AD.


SR-2019-04-28

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
2nd Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – April 28, 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.

2nd Sunday of Easter Theme: Faith and Christian Fellowship.

On April 30, 2000, Saint John Paul II declared that “the 2nd Sunday of Easter henceforth throughout the Church will also be called the Divine Mercy Sunday.” The desire for this celebration and its timing, was expressed by Our Lord to Saint Faustina as can be found in her Diary (§699) “… My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners.”

Therefore, the focus for this Sunday is Divine Mercy along with the Lectionary’s ongoing Easter Season’s celebration of the victory of Jesus over sin, evil and death.

“May your faith be joyful, because it is based on awareness of possessing a divine gift from God.” (St. John Paul II). The Holy Spirit works within us to enlighten us, and help us to have the strength and courage to use our Free Will, to accept this divine gift. Accepting this gift of faith means we mature our faith through attaining knowledge of scripture along with Church attendance. The latter emphasizes the need for Christian Fellowship to help validate our faith.

The apostles grew their faith, together (in fellowship), by having direct observance of Jesus’ works of mercy and His miracles while He was with them. They, in turn, after Jesus resurrection taught the masses about these same things. And that continues today in our Churches. But our faith and Christian Fellowship does not have the benefit of direct observations of Jesus and His activities, so we have to learn and grow spiritually by our faith – as Jesus says in today’s Gospel about us: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

“Faith is believing what you cannot see so that when you die you will be able to see what you believe”


Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16     Peter and the apostles, through their faith and fellowship, perform many signs and wonders.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24    This is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for His goodness, which endures forever.

Reading 2 – Revelation 1:9-11a,12-13,17-19     John describes the instruction he received, to write down his vision for the seven churches of Asia, for them to have faith and fellowship.

Gospel – John 20:19-31     Thomas believes because he sees Jesus and so shall we “see” him by our faith and Christian fellowship.


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. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document. 

Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16                          (Signs and Wonders)

Today’s Reading – After Jesus’ ascension, the Apostles began preaching the ‘Good News” message of Christianity. Soon the people were attracted to this Message by the power of the Apostles’ ability to heal the sick and cast out demons as a powerful sign that God’s Spirit was acting in and through them. All of this helped mature the faith of the earlier Christians.


Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico [i]. None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24                      (The Lord’s Goodness)

This is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for His goodness, which endures forever. Especially during this Easter Season, the church gives thanks to God for humanity’s salvation earned by Jesus.


R. – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.
Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron
[ii] say, “His mercy endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say, “His mercy endures forever.”
R. – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.
I was hard pressed and was falling
[iii], but the LORD helped me [iv]. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and He has been my Savior. The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just:
R. – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.
The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone
[v]. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. – Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love is everlasting.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         How to fear the Lord = Psalm 34 states, to fear the Lord – “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit, depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it”.
Also:   – Discover Him, Learn about Him, Worship Him (devotion).   – Seek His will in all matters and act upon it (service).   – Be obedient to Him in both good and bad times.   – Love Him and give Him thanks.   – Reflect Jesus in our thoughts, words, and deeds.   – Do justly, love kindness, be merciful, humble yourself, and walk humbly with your God.   – Tell others about Him.   – Hate evil.   The “fear of the Lord” is one of the seven gifts from the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2) but we must open up this gift (i.e. this ability) and use it as shown in all the above ways.


Reading 2     Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19                    (The First and the Last)   

Today’s Reading – John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, is writing from the island of Patmos where he is in exile having been banished for his belief in Jesus (That is, as a result of anti-Christian persecution under the Roman emperor Domitia). He is writing to fellow Christians who are also suffering for their faith. His correspondence seeks to give comfort to his audience. John entrusts his present fears and future hopes to God and invites his readers to do likewise. The basic message of this book is: Have faith that evil will not triumph over goodness. By standing with Jesus, Christians are assured of victory over all adversaries – even death.


I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the Kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the island called Patmos because I proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus. I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said, “Write on a scroll what you see.” Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands [vi] and in the midst of the lampstands one like a Son of Man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around His chest [vii].

When I caught sight of Him, I fell down at His feet as though dead. He touched me with His right hand [viii] and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last, the One who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever [ix]. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld [x] . Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          
He Touched Me.
Shackled by a heavy burden; ‘Neath a load of guilt and shame; Then the hand of Jesus touched me;
And now I am no longer the same.
He touched me, Oh He touched me; And Oh the joy that floods my soul; Something happened and now I know; He touched me and made me whole.
Since I met this blessed Savior; Since He cleansed and made me whole; I will never cease to praise Him:
I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.
He touched me, Oh He touched me; And Oh the joy that floods my soul; Something happened and now I know; He touched me and made me whole.
Something happened and now I know; He touched me and made me whole.
He made me whole; He made me whole. (William J. Gaither)


Gospel     John 20:19-31                               (Living Faith)

Today’s Reading – This Gospel, especially the first part of it, is often called “John’s Pentecost” because in it, Jesus imparts His Holy Spirit to those present in the Upper Room (“He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”). Jesus, after His resurrection, comes to a group of fear-filled, guilt-ridden and depressed disciples. He stands in their midst and offers them four gifts: peace, joy, the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins. By sharing with the disciples His wounds (“He showed them His hands and side”), Jesus is showing them that it is really Him and not some ghost. Also, He is teaching them that there is no Easter glory without Good Friday pain. Jesus is saying to us: the Christian community is built when the participants learn to share their wounds through faith and fellowship.

The apostle Thomas is featured in this passage; his journey from doubt to faith is offered as an encouragement to all who, at various moments of their lives, struggle with the challenge of believing in Jesus and living accordingly.


On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst [xi] and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” [xii]
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later His disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see My hands, and bring your hand and put it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” [xiii] Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His Name.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism 514 – Many things about Jesus of interest to human curiosity do not figure (appear) in the Gospels. Almost nothing is said about His hidden life at Nazareth, and even a great part of His public life is not recounted. What is written in the Gospels was set down there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His Name.”



[i] Reading 1 Footnote:
“Solomon’s portico” = This was located outside of the temple, open to all, Jews and Gentiles. Had it been within the temple, the priests would have interrupted them, and tried to silence them.
[ii] Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“House of Aron” = This represents the Jewish priests. The House of Aaron is the Biblical name of the family of Israelite priests ordained by God to serve Him at the Tabernacle in the wilderness and, later, at the temple in Jerusalem. Aronites were a family within the tribe of Levi – both Moses and his brother Aron were of the Tribe of Levi.
[iii] “I was hard pressed and falling” = My sin had strongly pushed me.
[iv] “But the Lord helped me” = By God’s grace I was prevented from yielding to the force of temptation.
[v] “The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone” = “Stone” and “Cornerstone” are figures of Christ, in whom this prediction was fulfilled, when Christ established His Church. Jesus as the Cornerstone = Whenever builders construct a stone building, they discard some stones because they do not fit. The Scribes and Pharisees did not believe that Jesus “fit” their idea of a leader and “discarded” Him. But, God had restored (resurrected) Him to “usefulness” and gave Him the position of prominence in God’s work. The cornerstone of a large building is the largest and/or most important stone in the foundation. All the other foundation stones are laid and aligned in reference to this key stone. God made His Son Jesus the cornerstone for of all humanity’s “alignment” into righteousness.
[vi] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“seven gold lampstands” = This is a reference not just to seven churches, but also to all Christian churches, seven being the number that symbolizes perfection or totality.
[vii] “in the midst of the lampstands was one like a Son of Man” = This “Son of Man” was Jesus Christ in the midst of His Church to enlighten it, to defend and sanctify it, and made it the true model for pastors, who should reside in the midst of their flock. Jesus, the “Son of Man”, is in their midst. Because of His presence, there is “nothing to fear.”
[viii] “He touched me with His right hand” = Biblically, the right hand signifies strength, perhaps because most people are right-handed and that is the hand that normally has their greatest strength. And also, the “right hand” refers to the “sword hand”, so there is nothing to fear.
[ix] “Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever” = This contrast between the past and the present, between death and life forever, due to the resurrection, constitutes the core of the Christian creed.
[x] “I hold the keys to death and the netherworld” = The keys are a symbol of authority. Because of His resurrection, Jesus “holds the keys over death”.
[xi] Gospel Footnotes:
“Jesus came and stood in their midst” = The same power which could bring Christ’s whole body, entire in all its dimensions, from the Virgins’ closed womb at His birth, through His burial Tomb, and through the Upper Room’s locked doors, can, without the least question, make the same body really present in the Eucharist; though, all these actions be above our comprehension.
[xii] “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” = This is the origin of the Sacrament of Penance, it is equally true that the Church’s power over sin is also exercised to an extent in the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Anointing if the Sick.
[xiii] “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” = Prior to this, the Apostles only addressed Jesus as “Teacher” or “Rabbi”.


SR-2019-04-21

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
Easter Sunday (Cycle A,B,C) – April 21, 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.

Easter Sunday Theme: The Lord Has Indeed Risen.

Today we begin the Easter Season – our 50-day meditation on the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection. All three readings focus on Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead and its meaning for our lives.

“He is risen.” The resurrection of Christ signifies God the Father’s acceptance of Jesus’ atonement for our sins, opens the Gates of Heaven, and thereby makes it possible for us to attain eternal salvation. It is the foundation upon which our faith rests. “The Lamb redeems the sheep. Christ, the innocent One, hath reconciled sinners to the Father.” (CatholicCulture.org)

“When Good Friday comes, these are the moments in life when we feel there’s no hope.
But then Easter comes.”
(Coretta Scott King)


Reading 1 – Acts of the Apostles 10:34a,37-43     Peter preaches about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23     Rejoice in this day of the Lord.

Reading 2 Colossians 3:1-4     Having been raised by Christ, be concerned with what is above.
or   1 Corinthians 5:6b-8     Let us celebrate this feast with new yeast.

Gospel – John 20:1-9     Mary of Magdala finds that the stone has been removed from Jesus’ tomb.


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. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document. 

Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43                             (Salvation in Christ)

Today’s Reading – This is an excerpt from the last of several sermons of Peter found in Acts. The timing here is that Jesus has already Arisen, spoken to His disciples, Ascended, and the disciples are now “spreading the Word”. What makes this sermon unique is that it reveals that Jesus has come to offer salvation not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles – to all people. In this sermon, Cornelius, a Roman centurion of the Italian Regiment, has had a vision and in this vision an angel has told him to send to Joppa (Jaffa) and summon a man named Simon who is called Peter. About noon the following day, Peter also had a vision about this gentile soldier. Peter travels to Cornelius and once Cornelius recounts his vision, Peter realizes the meaning of his own vision, saying “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts people from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” Cornelius has been expecting Peter to come and speak with him and so he has called together his relatives and close friends.


Peter proceeded to speak and said: “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John (The Baptist) preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.
This Man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead
[i]. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that He is the One appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in Him[ii] will receive forgiveness of sins through His Name[iii].”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.” “The cross of Christ reveals the love of God at its best and the sin of humankind at its worst.” (Anonymous)


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23                      (The Day of the Lord)

This thanksgiving psalm is applied to all the great things God has done in Christ, especially raising Him from the dead.


R. – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”
R. – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power; the right hand of the LORD is exalted. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”
R. – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes
[iv].
R. – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.  


Reading 2     Colossians 3:1-4                       (Seek Heavenly Things)       

Today’s Reading – Paul reminds his readers of their union with Christ through baptism and what that means. The Catholic Church in Vatican II states “By baptism we are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ; we die with Him and rise with Him”. When we die with Christ in baptism, we put our previous way of life, due to Original Sin, to death and are united to Christ’s resurrection. Consequently, past, present, and future sin can be overcome depending upon our pursuing of a new obedient way of life in Christ.


Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died[v], and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears[vi], then you too will appear with Him in glory.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Alternate Reading 2     1 Corinthians 5:6b-8                      (Change of Heart)

Today’s Reading – Leaven (yeast) is used as an additive, in minute amount, to dough thereby altering it from its original state by transforming it into something else, i.e. bread. In the Bible, leaven symbolizes, sometimes a good and sometimes a bad, influence upon the believer. The following is an example of a good influence – Matt. 13:33 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” Further, old leaven bread can be used in the same manner as leaven itself, to transform new dough into bread. In the case of bad influences, it symbolizes sin that defiles (contaminates) the believer. In the negative sense, this can symbolize that a sinner (false teacher) can have a negative impact upon another person and /or a whole group of people such as the Church.


Brothers and sisters: Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     John 20:1-9                       (Renewed Faith)

Today’s Reading – Our Gospel today tells us about the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb. It concludes by telling us that they did not yet understand that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thus, the details provided are not necessarily meant to offer proof of the Resurrection. The details invite us to reflect upon a most amazing gift, that is faith (i.e. obedient belief) in Jesus and His Resurrection.


On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb
[vii]. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put Him.” [viii] So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in[ix]. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths[x] there, and the cloth that had covered His head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed[xi]. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead [xii].


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         This Gospel passage concludes that even having seen the empty tomb and the burial cloths, Jesus’ followers do not yet understand about the Resurrection. In the passage that follows this reading, Mary of Magdala meets Jesus but mistakes Him for the gardener. In the weeks ahead, the Gospel readings from our liturgy will show us how the disciples came to believe in Jesus’ Resurrection through His appearances to them. Our Easter faith is based on their witness to both the empty tomb and their continuing relationship with Jesus—in His appearances and in His gift of the Holy Spirit.

Catechism 515 – The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of His mystery in all His earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of His birth to the vinegar of His Passion and the shroud of His Resurrection, everything in Jesus’ life was a sign of His mystery. His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that “in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” His humanity appeared as “sacrament”, that is, the sign and instrument, of His divinity and of the salvation He brings: what was visible in His earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of His divine Sonship and redemptive mission.

Catechism 651 – “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:4) The Resurrection above all constitutes the confirmation of all Christ’s works and teachings. All truths, even those most inaccessible to human reason, find their justification if Christ by His Resurrection has given the definitive proof of His divine authority, which He had promised.


[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
Jesus ate and drank with His disciples after He rose from the dead = This signifies a true resurrection from the dead, as a ghost does not eat nor drink.
[ii] Belief in Jesus = Belief here means not just belief in a concept nor just an acceptance of Jesus, but it means a total commitment, obedience, faith, trust, and hope in Him and His teachings.
[iii] By whose authority did Jesus speak? =. Jesus was given full authority by His Father and Jesus, in turn, gave that authority to His apostles and their successors (our Priests). All ambassadors speak in the “name” of the one whom they represent. Remember the old police shows where they would say “Stop in the name of the law”? The policeman was invoking the authority which he represented.
[iv] Responsorial Psalm Footnote:
Jesus as the Cornerstone = Whenever builders construct a stone building, they discard some stones because they do not fit. The Scribes and Pharisees did not believe that Jesus “fit” their idea of a leader and “discarded” Him. But, God had restored Him to “usefulness” and gave Him the position of prominence in God’s work. The cornerstone of a large building is the largest and/or most important stone in the foundation. All the other foundation stones are laid and aligned in reference to this key stone. God made His Son Jesus the cornerstone for of all humanity’s “alignment” into righteousness.
[v] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“For you have died” = In baptism, we “die to sin” (“pass on from our sin”) and are raised in Christ.
[vi] “When Christ your life appears” = At Jesus’ Second Coming, our life is no longer “hidden with Christ in God”.
[vii] Gospel Footnotes:
“Mary of Magdala came to the tomb” = As our Savior had been interred in great haste immediately following His crucifixion, the holy women who had before accompanied Jesus in all His journeys, brought perfumes to embalm His sacred body again, in a manner more proper, than Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had been able to do before.
[viii] “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put Him.” = In this verse, Mary calls Jesus “Lord”. During His ministry, Jesus’ close associates referred to Him as “Rabbi”, “Master”, and “Teacher”, all rather emotionless titles. But after His crucifixion they refer to His as “Lord”, the centurion called Him “The Son of God” and Thomas, in the Upper Room, called Him “My Lord and My God”! This therefore brings to mind: “To know Him is to love Him, And I do.”
[ix] John waited for Peter before entering the tomb. = No reason is given for John’s remaining outside the tomb. It is assumed that he did not enter because Peter was the leader of the apostles and as such it was his responsibility to lead the investigation, or perhaps John did not enter the tomb because he did not want to violate its sanctity nor incur ritual defilement (i.e. Jewish law about not having contact with a dead body).
[x] Some scholars believe that the presence of the burial cloths in the tomb offers evidence that Jesus’ body had not been stolen (it is understood that grave robbers would have taken the burial cloths together with the body).
[xi] Empty Tomb = Jesus had passed through the grave clothes and through the rocky tomb just as He would later enter the Upper Room when the doors were locked. The angel only opened the tomb to admit the disciples, not to release Jesus.
[xii] “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.” = Psalm 51:3-4 prophesies this – “Free Me from the net they have set for Me, for You are My refuge. Into Your hands I commend My spirit; You will redeem Me, LORD, God of truth.”. Matthew 12:40 – “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”. Psalm 16:10 – “For You will not leave my soul among the dead or allow Your Godly One to rot in the grave.”. Psalm 30:3 – “You brought Me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept Me from falling into the pit of death.”. Daniel 7:13-14 – “As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man. When He reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass way, His Kingship, One that shall not be destroyed.”.


 

 

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