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Sunday, June 2, 2019

A Homily - The Seventh Sunday of Easter


First Reading – Acts 7:55-60 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1-2,6-7,9 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20 ©
The Gospel According to John – John 17:20-26 ©

 (NJB)


Listen!

The good Saint Stephen did not need to die that day. As Christians we are not called to be fanatics.

When Stephen had his vision you must know this, he did not see Jesus at the right hand of God, we know this because God and Christ in heaven are not embodied beings, they are not visible to the eye, they have no hands.

We know this to be true.

Stephen was either speaking metaphorically, or he was ill.

It is tragic that he died for this, for his allegorical speech, or whatever they case may be. There was much more good work for him to do along the way.

His martyrdom cut that short.

Be mindful.

God is not concerned with earthly title and honors, or are obsequiousness.

It is human beings who are obsessed with questions of kingship, not the divine.

God is Abba, father; Jesus is brother, teacher; he was our friend.

God is the keeper of a garden, not the king of kings, or the ruler of empires.

Let Earth rejoice, and all people in it.

Let us understand that God is a mystery, and keep in mind that all people are God’s children, and God has no enemies.

God is the creator of all things and all conform to the will God, in the end. The will of God is just and merciful and loving.

In the presence of God there will be no dismay. God will wipe away the tears from everyone’s face, and all will be invited to share God’s table.

If you have never worshipped a carved image, do not think you are superior to any who have, because idolatry can be found in more than the worship of objects, idolatry is most insidious when given to doctrine and presented in the form of ideas and beliefs.

Listen!

The promise of John’s 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 itself is free, and that is the promise of God.

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, so be mindful of you read it.

It is nearly impossible to get an accurate bead on the meaning from today’s reading.

Set aside for a moment that John’s Gospel, has the least concern for historical accuracy of the four. John’s Gospel was written more than one hundred years after Jesus’ 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 is presented here is a fiction.

What this meandering passage represents are the thoughts and feelings of John’s community at the end of the first century CE, not the thoughts and feeling of Jesus of Nazareth as he walked through the world, engaged in his ministry.

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 represents this in terms that have a connection to the prevailing philosophical beliefs of the day, 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 a message of love, and hope.

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 him, those things are 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 7:55-60 ©

The Stoning of Stephen

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 96(97):1-2,6-7,9 ©

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

Alleluia!

The Lord is king, let earth rejoice,
  the many coastlands be glad.
  His throne is justice and right.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

The skies proclaim his justice;
  all peoples see his glory.
  All you spirits, worship him.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

For you indeed are the Lord
  most high above all the earth,
  exalted far above all spirits.

The Lord is king, most high above all the earth.

Alleluia!


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.


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.


7th Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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