Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 6:1-7; 1
Peter 2: 4-9
John 14: 1-12
Over these past weeks of Easter, we have listened to the struggle Jesus’ followers had to take him at his word. The Easter story tells us about the efforts of people to silence Jesus or to accept the vision of God’s love that He showed. Easter tells us that they failed. Easter also tells us of dashed hopes that refuse to die. Jesus’ resurrection begins to take root in the hearts of those first followers – women and men who, timidly at first and then with greater daring, begin to live the risen life.
We are now heading for the celebration of the great feast of Pentecost. The small group of followers of Jesus see the fruit of Jesus’ love burst into life, and the number of disciples increased. This burst of growth calls forth new plans. With new life and growth, new problems can also appear to be faced. The Acts of the Apostles tell us the wonderful story of the growth of that tiny community which appeared in the light of Jesus’ victory.
“Followers of the Way” was how people called the little community that rose, just as Jesus rose. It was only later that this group would be called “Christians”.
New growth meant more members of the community. Today we hear that the number of disciples was increasing. Most of these new members of the Church were poor and struggling. The Hellenist disciples (Greek speakers) made a complaint against the Hebrews. “In the daily distribution, their own widows were being overlooked.” A full meeting of the disciples was called. They listened, they prayed, they discerned. How do we deal with this good problem we have of more people? Our preachers must keep sharing the story of Jesus. But we also have hungry people among us. There are more widows without any support among us. And so was born the first group of “Deacons.” This was perhaps one of the first acts of ‘synodality’ in the Church. They listened, they prayed, they discerned. The Good News has still to be shared; food must still be shared with those who need it.
As we continue our shared journey of Easter, perhaps our present challenges will find good solutions as we remember the words of Jesus in today’s gospel: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled…. Whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself.” Even in 2023 we need to remember the “word of God is something alive and active!” New challenges call for new responses. And let’s not forget his parting words to us: “I am with you always.”
Fr. Kevin Dance CP is the vicar of the St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville. He is very actively involved in ministries locally and at Passionist International where he served as the Executive Director for many years.