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Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Homily - The Sixth Sunday of Easter


First Reading - Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©
Alternative Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23
The Gospel According to John 14:23-29 ©
Alternative Acclamation – John 14:18
Alternative Gospel Reading – John 17:20-26 ©

 (NJB)


Listen!

Salvation is not earned.

It is a gift. It is the fulfillment of God’s intention for you and the whole of creation.

Salvation is not linked to our rites and rituals, to the way we mark ourselves as belonging to a group or not, to whether we are in the Church or out.

Our ultimate salvation has nothing to do with the things we eat, with our good deeds or our bad ones.

Our Salvation comes from God. We are saved together, and until we have arrived at its fullness and completion, we are not saved at all.

Be mindful.

The psalmist is right to ask God to bless all peoples and all nations; to have pity and to be merciful.

The psalmist is right to ask for the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Know this:

God is not confined to one place, neither is God confined to one time, nor does God belong to one people.

God, who created the universe, God is the God of everyone, whether they know of God or not. God is still God.

Praise the fairness of God. Ask for God’s blessing; not just four yourself, but ask for it on behalf of everyone.

When we visualize the fulfilment of God’s promise, when we reflect on the heavenly worlds and the paradise to come, bear this in mind:

Let all the talk of precious metals, and precious stones fall away; forget the talk of gold, and gems.

Ignore the jingoism, the fetish with Israel and with Jerusalem, with the apostles of Jesus, they are not relevant to these reflections. Every reference we find in scripture to these material things, is in a real way a distraction from the central message of the gospels and the good news they are meant to convey.

Where God is there is God, God who created the universe and sustains all things in it. God who is the parent of every being; where God is there is no temple, there is no altar, there is no edifice or anything we would recognize as the structure of a church; there is no cathedral, there is no basilica…where God is there is light, and love and peace.

The light has no limit, the light shines forever and there is no darkness in it; in God’s embrace all people are welcome, and no one will come to it who has not been prepared for it.

God prepares us all.

Where God dwells there are no gates. People will come having passed through every plane, they will come from all directions. 

Listen!

The promise of the revelation is this:

Every person will receive what they deserve…as the children of God they will receive God’s love, they will be forgiven just as Jesus prayed when he was dying on the cross. We will all receive mercy.

We will be cleansed and made well, healed and made happy.
We will be whole.

The hungry will be fed, and the thirsty will drink, the gift is free, and that is the promise of God.

Understand this:

God, the creator of the universe, God is present in all of God’s children, and where God is present God is present fully.

There is no division in the divine. The divine is inclusive of all reality, of every living being that is it.

No-one is excluded.

Every person who ever was, who is, who will ever be, everyone is present in the divine, as such they are present within each of us, for each of us carries the divine within ourselves.

Jesus was the son of God, as each of us is a child of God; a son or daughter.

Love one another, as God loves you. This is the great commandment.

Do not be afraid, life on Earth is merely a passage to another world, it is the unfolding a mystery.

Listen to your sister, to your brother, they have something important to say. Each one of us has the potential to speak for God, to be God’s prophet, to be the advocate of Christ,

Everything, and everyone, returns to the creator, in so doing we come to the understanding that we never apart.

God, the creator of the universe, God will abandon no-one. God will leave no orphans, no-one will be left stranded in the throws of sin.

Not one of us shall be lost.

Listen!

There are passages in scripture, and there are many of them, in which the Gospels provide the reader, or the listener, with only a tangled and confused set of words and concepts that do little to shed light on anything good or meaningful.

The Gospel for today is one of those passages.

It is nearly impossible to get an accurate bead on its meaning.

Set aside for a moment that John’s Gospel, has the least concern for historical accuracy of the four. The Gospel was written more than one hundred years after his death. It is likely that the event portrayed here never happened, that Jesus never spoke these words in this way.

He may have said something like it, but that is neither here nor there.

What this meandering passage represents is the thoughts and feelings of John’s community at the end of the first century CE. It fully represents the mystical and mysterious way in which Christians had come to see the life of Jesus, and Jesus’s relationship to God, the creator of the Universe. It does this in terms that have a connection to some of the prevailing philosophical beliefs regarding the metaphysical structure of reality, but does nothing to explicate the system of beliefs it is specifically engaging.

It is poor theology.

This type of thinking has been a burden on the faith over the centuries and millennia, and should be struck from the cannon. It is impossible for us to know what the Gospel writers meant, what the limits of their thinking was, never mind the fact that the philosophies of the ancient world, their metaphysical systems, were false, they were wrong, they were errant, there is little in those thought systems that can help us understand ourselves, the world we live in, or our relationship to the divine.

What truth we can glean from today’s passage is this:

Jesus prayed to God on behalf of his followers, he prayed that they would understand both his mission and the mission that he was passing on to them.

He prayed for their unity.

He prayed that they love one another, and that the message they carried forward in his name was one of love.

This Gospel passage has the appearance of being directed specifically to Christians, and that is unfortunate because the mission of Jesus crosses all boundaries; sectarian, national, ethnic and gender.

This Gospel passage is overly concerned with the message regarding the identity of Jesus, it is dogmatic, it pushes the message of who John’s community believed Jesus was, over the mission to preach the love of God. That was not what Jesus himself taught. In this way the Gospel deviates from the faith.

Who Jesus was in the world, and what we believe about that is not germane. Such beliefs have no bearing on the way that is meant to be the Christian life.

As followers of the way, rather than concerning ourselves with who we believe Jesus was, we need to concern ourselves with how Jesus was in the world, with how we are able to live a loving life according to the standard Jesus set.


First Reading - Acts 15:1-2,22-29 ©

It Has Been Decided by the Spirit and by Ourselves Not to Burden You with Any Burden Beyond these Essentials

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

Then the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:

‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 66(67):2-3,5-6,8 ©

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Alleluia!

O God, be gracious and bless us
  and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
  and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and exult
  for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
  you guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
  let all the peoples praise you.
May God still give us his blessing
  till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

Alleluia!


Second Reading – Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23 ©

He Showed Me the Holy City Coming Down Out of Heaven

In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.


Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©

Come, Lord Jesus

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.
The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.


Gospel Acclamation – John 14:23

Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus said: ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.’

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to John 14:23-29 ©

A peace the world cannot give is my gift to you Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.

Those who do not love me do not keep my words.

And my word is not my own: it is the word of the one who sent me.

I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.
Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.

If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe.’


Gospel Acclamation – John 14:18

Alleluia, alleluia!

I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord;
I will come back to you,
and your hearts will be full of joy.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to John 17:20-26 ©

Father, May they be Completely One

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me.

May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.

I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one.

With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Father, Righteous One, the world has not known you, but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.


6th Sunday of Easter

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