6th Sunday of Easter (26 May 2019)
Acts 15:1-2,22-29: Rev 21:10-14,22-23; John 14:23-29
We are approaching the end of the Easter Season and the focus of the readings this week is on keeping the Word of God. This is what we are asked to do in this life and our reward for doing so is the eternity that awaits us when we will live in God’s presence as His people.
The Gospel is taken from John and it is explicit. Jesus says, “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”. The benchmark of those who love God is that they keep God’s Word. This seems an onerous task but God assures us that He will help us. Jesus says in the Gospel, “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”. We are called to depend on God’s help given to us in the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we can remember what Jesus asks of us and keep His Word. Those who keep God’s Word are assured of His peace; a peace the world cannot give but a deep inner peace borne out of the sweet surrender to the sovereignty of God and the certain knowledge that He, who knows best, conquers all things.
The first reading, which is taken from the Acts of the Apostles, gives us a further insight into living the Christian life. The reading is taken from the chapter that describes the events of the Council at Jerusalem when the Church met to determine whether those who claim salvation through the work of Christ are also required to keep the law as to circumcision and as to the food laws. This controversy is seen in the context of human minds struggling to make sense of the laws of Moses giving way to the perfect law of Christ. The Council after discussion and prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit concludes that salvation is assured through the love of Christ and not through keeping the laws of Moses. After all none of us can keep the Mosaic laws perfectly and God in His mercy has decreed that the perfect sacrifice of Christ is sufficient to make good all our imperfections. What He seeks is a loving heart.
The first reading offers us valuable guidance to Christian living. Our vocation calls for a commitment to live loving lives that recognize and claim the amazing and loving sacrifice of Christ. Calling on the Holy Spirit, we will know what it is that God wants of us. And the second reading points to what lies ahead. Taken from the book of the Revelation, we are told of John’s vision of the New Jerusalem in all its glory when God’s people are dwelling with God in their midst. Then there will be no need for a temple because God Himself will be the Temple, present among His people.
This week’s readings provide us with much food for thought. How are we to live? To make decisions? To resolve conflicts? The answers to all these questions turn on how we respond to the gift of salvation that God has given us. God gives us the gift of salvation in order to love Him and to live in relationship with Him. And He calls us to start this relationship today, in this life, not at some distant point in the future.
Some points for reflection as you read the passages:
- What strikes you about how, at the Council in Jerusalem, the early Church leaders resolved difficult differences amongst them? How can you resolve conflicts at work, in your family or at Church in a Christian way?
- Can you think of any aspects of the Word of God that you could keep more faithfully? What can you do to make this a reality today?
- Can you recall a time when you struggled to discern God’s will for you? How do the readings this week help in understanding how to discern God’s will?