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Scripture Reflections - May 19
Fifth Sunday of Easter

Acts 14:21-27
Revelation 21: 1-5a
John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

Each of the seven Sundays after Easter describe for us the reactions of the apostles to the news that Jesus was even more alive after Good Friday than He was before his death on the cross. They gradually began to understand how necessary it was for Him to die in order to accomplish His mission from the Father – freeing mankind from the ancient curse. On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, each of the readings show us how the apostles became more and more confident about the future.

In the first reading, Paul and Barnabas have just completed their first missionary journey. In village after village, as only a few of the Jews accept their message, they turn to a more receptive gentile audience. Now they know this is God’s plan – a truly “catholic” church in which God welcomes both Jews and non-Jews to the Good News of salvation.

In the second reading from the “dream vision” of John, the Book of Revelation, God describes through mysterious, symbolic language, what the future will bring for the church. It will bring much suffering, rejection, and martyrdom, but it will also bring final victory and eternal joy to the vast multitude of those “washed in the Blood of the Lamb.” The old order has passed away. From the throne, God promises: “Behold, I make all things new.” His Church, therefore, is to be dynamic and flexible with eyes always fixed on its purpose of bringing all to salvation.

In the Gospel, taken from Jesus’ farewell discourse just hours before His betrayal by Judas, their Master and Lord solemnly reveals to them a new commandment. Love – “agape” – self-sacrificing love for one another, is to be the sign by which all will know they are His followers.

That love is to flow through their faith and works into the structure and authority of His church. Love is to form the basis for all its ministry as well. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”

Our Pope Francis has made real efforts to bring the outward face of the church more in line with the humble, loving, and caring face of Jesus as it carries out the everyday work of its worldwide mission. May the example of Pope Francis give new life to the spirit of love, truth, and service in every local church.

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