Sunday, April 20, 2008

Homily for the fifth Sunday of Easter - 04-20-08

Homily for the fifth Sunday of Easter - Year A

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

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 14:1-12

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!

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen