FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Reflection for May 7, 2023
Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)
Acts 6:1-7 | Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19 | 1 Peter 2:4-9 | John 14:1-12
Today’s Scripture readings invite us to resolve community conflicts fairly and peacefully, teach that each one of us is a “living stone” called to build up the “spiritual house” of God and encourage us to take comfort in God’s promise of eternal life.
Five year old Joy was in a heated argument with her older sister Jill about who was going to get the last brownie. Their mother Laurice overheard the loud discussion in their kitchen and came in to resolve the conflict. Her two girls were obviously very distraught about getting that final treat. Sensing the need to teach a deeper truth, the mom asked her children that ever-relevant question: “What would Jesus do?” Jill immediately answered, “That’s easy, Jesus would just break the brownie and make five thousand more!”
Many of us have experienced conflicts in our parishes and communities. When conflicts are not handled well, the Church suffers because of divisions that divert it from fulfilling its core commitment. The first Christian community was not without problems. The widows were among the poor. The concern of the early Christians for the Jewish widows in the community, and their apparent neglect of the Greek widows in the daily distribution of food and financial assistance, gave rise to the conflict described in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. As their care for the poor and the widows increased, The Church, being a mother, resolved the conflict between her children by instituting the order of deacons for the service of the community. The deacons made sure all widows get a fair share of the community's food and charity.
When the great painter Fernando Amorsolo was a young boy, he decided to draw a picture of his brother, Alejandro. He got out bottles of ink and succeeded in making a mess. When his mother, Bonifacia got home she said, “What a beautiful picture,” and kissed him. Later in life he said, “That kiss made me a painter.”
In the second reading, the apostle Peter envisioned a new temple made of living stones joined together by Christ, the cornerstone. God made us each unique, individual, and one-of-a-kind. No one has ever or will ever walk the earth who is exactly the same as us. We are living stones and our life is a work in progress. The lord is carving us from useless stones to very useful ones. In the same manner that Bonifacia would always see all the good in his son Fernando Amorsolo, Jesus looks into us not as a rough piece of rock but he sees inside of us the potential to be beautiful dressed stones useful in building his new temple. He lovingly looks at us as a “royal priesthood, a holy nation, and his own people”. As the master builder, he is able to chip away all that is not a part of what he wants us to be. We, living stones, when touched to the cornerstone, become jewels.
Amelia, a mother who was feeling sickly one Sunday morning decided not to attend church with her family. She asked her little girl Catherine to remember what the homily was about so she could explain it to her when she gets home. When Catherine came home she reported, “Fr. Jansen said, "Don’t be scared, you’ll get your quilt.” Of course the mother didn’t understand the child’s explanation, so she called the parish priest. Fr. Jansen explained that the message was, “Fear not, your comforter will come.”
Today we sense the apostles’ trepidation as they begin to realize that the Lord would soon be leaving them. In the Gospel, Jesus consoles His apostles, “Don't be afraid, it's going to be okay. You can trust both the Father and me." Our Lord gives his apostles three comforting facts: first, he is going to prepare an everlasting accommodation for them in his Father’s House in heaven; second, he will come back again; and finally, he is going to take them to be with Him forever. These words by Jesus could well be called a manual for stress management or a remedy for anxious and troubled hearts. These verses become the foundation for comfort, not only for his disciples but also for us. If you ever get to the point in your life where you think you've run out of escapes and there aren't any more places where you can rest, find gentle protection and guard of love in his promise that he will never cease to surround us.
Dear God, grant that I will be at peace with everyone at home, at school and even on my job. Make of me what pleases you that I may offer myself in building up your dwelling place, myself becoming one of its living stones. Strengthen my faith to trust in your Son's promise of eternal life. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. Amen.
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Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum