Weekly Bulletin w/b 22nd May
Sixth Sunday of Easter
God our redeemer, you have delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your Son: grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life, so by his continual presence in us he may raise us to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Readings for Mass
1st Reading. Acts 16:9-15
Through the power of the Holy Spirit the promised new life of Easter permeates the lives of the apostles and they rise to the task of sharing God’s life and love with the world around them and that whenever they did, they found that God was there already. For example, in the story of Lydia (today’s 1st reading) we hear that ‘the Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul’. It might be tempting to think that Paul’s fluency and fervour converted Lydia, but the author of Acts is clear that God was at work on both sides of the conversation, making possible what he was asking for. We are made fully alive with the life of God.
2nd Reading. Revelation 21:10; 22-27; 22:1-5
We are given a majestic picture of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, where God’s Kingdom is seen in all its glory. The water of life flows from the city to the world around. God’s generous love is the source and goal of all things. How can the city where He and the Lamb are present be other than the great wellspring of life, flowing out to those who need it? The city is to be priestly – gathering up the praise of the whole of creation; and royal, the source of that healing, wise order through which God’s rule is to be established. So the New Jerusalem, in John’s vision, will be the centrepiece and glory of the New Creation, the fountain from which there flows freely all that the world could need. Human beings in community with one another and with God will exercise stewardship over the earth and its fruits, in the glorious light that comes from the throne of God.
Gospel. St John 14:23-29
The Gospel reading is taken from Jesus’s discourse at the Last Supper, and is dominated by his imminent departure. He is concerned to assure his disciples that he will not leave them orphans. Despite his leaving, he and they will not be apart from each other. If they keep his word they will be drawn into the love of the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit will remind them of his words. Peace is his final gift to them, a peace the world cannot give or take away.
In the Gospel reading Jesus is talking about absence and presence. The whole of the Last Supper is overshadowed by the knowledge that it is the end. Jesus attempts to prepare the disciples for a time when he will not be physically with them. In this passage Jesus is actually setting out the ways that he will still be with the disciples, come what may.
First of all, he will be with them whenever they remember and try and stay faithful to what he has taught them. Next, in trying to continue in love and commitment to Jesus, they will be continuing Jesus’s own work of making God present. So by their love they can continue the work of Jesus and the Father will be present with them, as he was with Jesus. And lastly, because Jesus is nothing if not realistic about his followers, he does not expect them to manage this task of loving God and making him present on their own. The Holy Spirit is to come as a constant enabler of the presence of God. Their new life, waiting to be realised, is the gift of God.
So in a kind of circular argument, God is asking them to continue to make him present, as Jesus does, and he is giving them his own life and presence to make that possible. Over and over again, in God’s great and gracious plan, we see that we are asked to do and to give what has already been done and given to us by God. We are given love and we are asked to love. (Jane Williams)