FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Sixth Sunday of Easter (C)
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 | Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 | Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 | John 14:23-29
We have arrived at the sixth Sunday of Easter and continue to bask in the glow of the story of the growth of the early Church in Acts, the vision of heaven from the book of Revelation, and the consolation of Jesus' words to the Apostles in the upper room from the Gospel of John.
Saint Pope John XXIII was known for his genuine joy and a magnificent sense of humor. used humor in various types of moments to keep himself humble, to shed new light on situations, or simply to make those with him crack a smile. One day, shortly after being elected pope, John was strolling down Rome’s streets. A woman passed him and said to her friend, "My God, he's so fat!" Overhearing this, he stopped and responded, "Madame, I trust you understand that the the election of a Pope is not exactly a beauty contest!"
Our first reading from Acts reading is very important for what it demonstrates about the manner in which the Church should be governed, in order that the peace of the Church may be maintained. The Council of Jerusalem reflects a very Catholic model of the Church in terms of how a matter of significant pastoral practice and doctrine is properly dealt with. In Acts 15, elders and apostles gathered to consider whether or not the Jewish practice of circumcision is necessary for Gentile converts. After a sharp dispute and debate and no decision had been reached, Peter stood up and settled the matter. After he has spoken, the council fell silent, indicative that his papal authority was recognized. This decree was delivered to all churches nearby and was taught as binding on all Christians, Jew and Gentile converts alike. We note that the early Church does not split up. The circumcisers" do not run off and start the "Circumcision Church of Jerusalem". The whole Church — even those whose theological positions were rejected — accepted the conciliar decision and maintained unity. Thus the peace of the Church was preserved.
You’ve probably heard the story of the two wolves. It goes like this. There are two wolves, and they live inside each of us. They are always fighting. One is darkness and despair...it is fed by, and produces, things like anger, envy, greed, arrogance, lies, false pride, and ego.The other is light and hope. It lives for, and produces, things like joy and peace, humility and generosity, faith, hope, and love. These two wolves live in each one of us, and they are constantly struggling for dominance. And the question is always...which one wins? The answer is simply...whichever one you feed. As children of the light, we are called to spread the light, and with it to spread joy and peace, and faith and hope and love. And it also matters that we remember — as we enter the darkest nights of our story — that no matter how powerful the darkness seems to get, the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.
How bright is your light? The Book of Revelation shares with us today, “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.” This illumination represents for each of us the light we are to be in our family, our workplace, and in our environment. But how can I better bring Christ’s light and life into the world? It seems as if our world always has a dark cloud over it — Covid-19, “Drug War” Killings, killing of activists and rights defenders, freedom of media, children’s rights, constant political unrest, graft and corruption in government, widening debt-to-GDP ratio, and all the differences on just about every subject under the sun aired daily over all the social media outlets. We can and must be better than this. The Good News of our scriptures compels us to look interiorly and make an honest evaluation. Are we bringing the Light of Christ into our family, community and world? We must do as Jesus asks each of us to do...to be light when darkness surrounds us.
Years ago, a man was promised a great inheritance by his aunt. She assured him that after her final expenses were paid he would be the beneficiary of her will. But when the elderly aunt died and was buried all that the man received was an old family Bible and a few paper bills. He put the few paper bills away in a drawer, and he stashed the Bible in a trunk in the attic. He figured that his aunt was either poorer than anyone thought, or just unable to follow through on her promises. Years passed by. His health was failing, and he was planning to move in with his son. As he packed his few belongings together, he came across the Bible in the trunk in the attic. As he leafed through it, he found bank notes scattered throughout the pages. He found over ₱500,000, a substantial inheritance in those days, tucked between the pages of that old Bible.
Have you ever prayed for something with such an immediate need, only to feel like you waited forever to see the answer? Things don’t happen when we expect them to. We might experience doubt and even try to control things on our own when we don’t see Jesus at work in our time frame. On this Sunday, Jesus promises four things in John 14:23-29: God's love to those who keep his Word, the Holy Spirit to instruct the hearts of the faithful about the deposit of Faith, True Inner Peace in the chaos of our world, and the Hope of his Second Coming. Unlike the broken promises to abolish endo or contractualization, end crime, corruption and illegal drugs within three to six months, or lower rice prices to ₱20 per kilogram, we can be sure that whenever Jesus makes promises he keeps them. He is just as faithful today as he was in the past and will always be the same forever. It may take time. It may take tears. But Jesus will not forget you. He always keeps His promises, no matter how long it takes. Whatever your burdens are, the solution to a troubled heart is still the same, to trust in Jesus and make Him the Lord and Savior of your life. He said: “I’ll never leave you.” Trust in Jesus’ promises. Does your life, as well as your words, speak the “Amen” to his glory, to his praise, and to his honor? May that truly be the story of your life, and of my life, this day and always. Amen!
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum