Fifth Sunday of Easter
Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
John 13:31-33a, 34-35
Our journey through the Easter season is a wonderful time to be attentive to the stories and the witness of those who have entered the Church through the waters of Baptism or through their reception into full communion at the Easter Vigil. Like the early Church of the time of Barnabas and Paul, the Church continues to grow in considerable numbers through the sharing of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ. That is why we are called an Easter People.
The reason for accepting Christ may vary greatly in the life of our newest members, but it speaks with one voice of the new life that the Lord has shared with those who open their hearts to his love. The disciple John in the Book of Revelation tells us of his vision: “Then, I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.” He says that he saw a new Jerusalem come down out of heaven from God. This new Jerusalem is the Church, where God dwells with the human race. Then John says: “He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be their God.” He also says: “The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”
God’s perfect creation, marred by sin, was set on a course of restoration in the Covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The temple in Jerusalem is where God dwelt among his people. The moment of restoration came with the death of Jesus on the Cross, when sin and death were conquered, and holiness and life were regained for the elect. And a new Covenant was established and sealed with the blood of the Lamb. This Covenant is for all peoples who desire the Lord, who accept him, and serve him with love. The new Jerusalem, the Church, which is not a building but the gathering of the faithful in worship and praise, is where the Lord now dwells. And in this new Covenant the Lord has begun a new work, recreating a fallen world into a heavenly kingdom where the commandment to love the Lord is expanded as we hear in John 14:34: “I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: love one another as I have loved you.”
The final line of today’s Gospel of John says it all: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The joy we share with our newest family members leads us to join our voices to the Collect Prayer for this Sunday: “… constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us, that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism may, under your protective care, bear much fruit and come to the joys of eternal life.” With that prayer intention fulfilled, imagine the stories and witness that will be shared with another generation.
By: Father Leonard Stoviak, Retired Priest of the Diocese of Greensburg