Watching for the morning of May 18
The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Past the midpoint of the Easter season, our attention begins to turn from the resurrection appearances towards Pentecost. The one who was raised is the one who abides with us, who gives us his Spirit, who manifests himself to the world through us.
In the first reading this Sunday we hear Stephen’s last words as Luke (the author of Luke-Acts) brings Paul on stage as a participant in the outbreak of communal violence against the incipient Christian movement. The book of Acts – volume 2 of Luke’s narrative about Jesus – shows the ongoing words and deeds of Jesus through the Christian community. In his death, Stephen embodies Christ. He prays for his murderers and, as the crucified Jesus remained faithful to the end entrusting himself into the hands of God using the words of Psalm 31, so Stephen entrusts himself to God. The crucified and risen one is present in his followers.
This theme of Jesus present to the world through the community is seen also in the reading from 1 Peter. The author reminds us that we are a part of God’s holy temple, the place of God’s encounter with the world. We are a “chosen race” sent to proclaim the wondrous work of God.
Sunday’s Gospel takes us to the “farewell discourses” in John where, in light of his impending death, Jesus makes provision for his followers and tells them what is to come. Jesus will continue to be present with them. They will have the same access to the Father as Jesus – indeed the community will do what Jesus has done, bearing into the world the bountiful gifts of God.
(Click here for images from Parangal)
The Prayer for May 18, 2014
Let not our hearts be troubled, O God;
teach us to put our hope and trust in you.
Guide us in your way;
keep us in your truth;
enfold us in your life
that your works of love, justice and mercy
may be done in us and through us;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
The Texts for May 18, 2014
First Reading: Acts 7:55-60
“While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’” – Stephen becomes a victim of communal violence for his preaching and teaching about Jesus, and in his dying embodies the faith and love Jesus modeled.
Psalmody: Psalm 31:1-5
“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” – A prayer of lament. The trust in God embodied in the psalm is reflected in Stephen and quoted by Jesus on the cross.
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:2-10
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” – Expounding on baptism, the author urges the believers to “grow into salvation” as living stones in a “spiritual house” (a spiritual temple).
Gospel: John 14:1-14
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” – Jesus makes provision for his followers in lieu of his impending death, urging them to remain faithful and assuring them that God’s resources are more than adequate to provide all their needs.