for the fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 6:1-7 - 1 Pt 2:4-9 - Jn 14:1-12
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
Showing the Father
Acts 6, 1-7
Acts 6:1, Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2, And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, «It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3, Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. 4, But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.» 5, And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6, These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them. 7, And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Showing the Father: this is the Work of God, this is the Work of Christ Jesus! This is the work for which Jesus, that man like you and me, was crucified and put to death... For although Jesus is a man, he is also, and first, God, and the Son of God. And it is precisely because he called himself the Son of God that Jesus, that man, was delivered up by the Jews of his time, and put to death by order of Pontius Pilate. But because he is the Son of God, Jesus not only died, but also resurrected, and this by the Power of the Father, the Father who is his for all eternity, the Father who sent him to earth in order for Jesus to reveal him!
Such a noble mission! Showing the Father! This is what Jesus came to do on earth! Now Jesus did not want to fulfill this mission alone. On the contrary, he wanted men, like himself, to join him: he chose twelve apostles and tens of disciples in order to share this marvelous mission with them! It is to this that Saint Peter and the other Apostles testify in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles read today: "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables... But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (Acts 6:2 and 4)
Certainly this Sunday's first reading concerns the institution of the first deacons. But do they not shine a contrasting light on the ministry of Peter and the Apostles, illuminating it in an unequaled manner? For if the deacons were instituted for the service of the table, then the Apostles, for their part, were instituted for another service, one much more important and fundamental: the service of the Word! Following the example of Jesus, their Lord and Master, the Apostles were charged with showing the Father! For the Word of God is the Son of the Father! If the Apostles are in the service of the Word, this means that, through their human words, they must manifest to the entire world who the Father is and how far his infinite Love goes.
1 Pt 2:4-9
1 Pt 2:4, Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; 5, and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6, For it stands in scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame." (Is 28:16) 7, To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner," 8, and "A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall" (Ps 117:22; Is 8:14); for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
If the Apostles have for their mission the announcement of the Word of God, it is because it is the mission of the entire Church, no matter where, and no matter which! Stones are what we are through Baptism. When the water was poured on our body, when the Most Holy Trinity was invoked to come and dwell in our soul, ever since that time, we are no longer men like other men: we are stones like the one Stone, which is Christ! Each and every one of us is charged with this mission of Christ and of the Church: showing the Father!
We are living stones! Happy are we! For it is true happiness to be associated in this way with the Work of God. But this mission entrusted to us is not optional, far from it. What did that great model of the Christian and of the apostle, Saint Paul, say? "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16) If, with Saint Paul, we wish to be saved and go to Heaven, then let us not hesitate: let us be faithful to our Baptism, have the courage to proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ, and live out our faith within the Church, notably by participating in the Eucharist every Sunday!
For we are not baptized without a precise goal. That goal is participation in the Sunday Eucharist. That is the primary place where the Word is announced! That is where we accomplish our salvation in Jesus Christ, and nowhere else! We are living stones, but rejected stones just as Christ was rejected. We are living stones established to offer God spiritual sacrifices: that is to say to offer ourselves to God, in Christ, through Mary. In many countries, Christians are persecuted and put to death. In other regions, the churches are deserted, closed. Christians of these strange regions, where are you?
Jn 14:1, Jesus said to his disciples, «Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2, In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3, And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4, And you know the way where I am going.» 5, Thomas said to him, «Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?» 6 Jesus said to him, «I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.» 8 Philip said to him, «Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.» 9 Jesus said to him, «Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.»
The commentaries for this Sunday's gospel are available on my website; these commentaries can be found in three different homilies:
The Most Blessed Virgin Mary witnessed to her faith in God by remaining with her Divine Son, standing at the foot of the Cross of Calvary. Let us ask Her for the strength necessary to remain standing, always, as we await the coming of the Son of Man!