May 6, 2007
Fifth Sunday of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 14:21-27

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch . They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God .” They appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord  in whom they had put their faith. Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch , where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished.  And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with themand how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Some Christian traditions wonder aloud, " Where do Catholics get the idea of Apostolic succession?" One of the revealed truths comes from this pericope from ACTS. 14: 23 which clearly states, they, Paul and Barnabus appointed elders for them in each Church". The Greek word for elder, "presbyterus" is often translated "Elder" or "Priest" in the literature of the time. Paul and Barnabus were Apostles of Christ, (ones who were sent) to spread the New Faith. Those they appointed as successors were their substitutes when they went on to other towns to establish Churches. Those appointed in their turn appointed replacements as they retired or were transferred to other Churches. This Tradition has continued, unbroken, down through the Centuries even to today. It will continue until Christ comes in His Glory at the appointed time.
At the end of this first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabus returned to their base in Antioch to make a report to the Christian Community about their success in opening the faith to the Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13

R. (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD, and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Let them make known your might to the children of Adam, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

When Paul and Barabus were on their missionary tour, they were able to resort to the only Scripture then written the Hebrew Scriptures. Since many of the people they spoke to were either of Greek extraction or apoke Greek as a first language, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was used to anchor the Faith. The Psalms were a prime source of teaching and exhortation allowing them to repeat, from memory, the ancient words to validate what they were teachings.

Reading II
Rev 21:1-5a

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”
The One who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Still in a visionary trance, John reports what he saw in the Heavenly Court. The symbol of a "New Jerusalem", coming from Heaven, evokes thoughts of a new faith replacing the "Law" as the guide to eternal life. The promise of a tearless society and the extinction of mortal death and the cessation of pain and suffering, grants us a vivid picture of Glory we can expect if we abide in the will of God.

Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

When Judas had left them, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,if you have love for one another.”
When Judas was excused to do his dastardly deed, Jesus then freely tells the remaining Apostles of the Glorification He, they and we can expect if His "New Commandment is adheered to. It sounds simple, "Love one another. As I have loved you, you should love one another. They will know you are My disciples if you love one another.
It's real easy, most of the time to love those who love us in return. The tough part is loving our enemies, those who persecurte and revile us. The next time you are asked to be a witness to Christ, perhaps it will be someone who is a traitor, criminal or terrorist! It is then our true self is revealed for all to see. "Love one another," has no exceptions!

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