Fifth Sunday of Easter

One of the wonderful things about the disciples of Jesus is that they asked Him the same questions we probably would have.

Today's gospel takes place at the Last Supper. Christ is preparing his apostles for their future without Him. He tells them He is going to prepare a heavenly home for them.

  • What kind of heavenly home would you like Jesus to prepare for you?

  • How do you picture experiencing God in paradise forever?

The disciples ask Jesus about where He is going and about his Father. Our Lord then says He is the revelation of God the Father. He tells Philip, "Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father" (Jn. 14:9).

 

The Father looks, thinks, and acts like Jesus of Nazareth who has compassion on the lame and sightless, who brought a dead girl back to life, and instilled life anew in a dead young man - the only son of a widowed mother. The Father is a God, who like his Son, condemns hypocrisy and insincerity. He is forgiving too - even of his very followers who failed to remain with Him during his passion.

Furthermore, Philip and James' questions offer Jesus an occasion to explain that He will not leave them without direction. He points to Himself as the way, the truth and the life.

  • In doing so, do you think Jesus is being narrow-minded, short-sighted, merciful or instructional?

  • When is the last time you asked Jesus to "show you the way?"

 

He also cautioned his disciples not to let their hearts be troubled. Every human heart, in every age, knows what it means to be troubled. It is a struggle to live in an imperfect world. We have friction in families, dueling political viewpoints and clashing cultural values, the coronavirus, and rocky relationships.

And yet, God depends on us. He does not enter directly to resolve conflicts that arise - whether they be philosophical or physical. That is left to human intelligence and human science. He moves rather unexpectedly.

Consider the introduction to St. Matthew's Gospel. It begins, "The family record of Jesus Christ, soon of David, son of Abraham" and then goes on to list 42 generations, naming only four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. They are all rather jolting individuals.

  1. Tamar's name is in the Book of Genesis (38:5). She pretended to be a strumpet and then seduced her father-in-law, Judah. The twins born of that illicit union were Perez and Zerah, ancestors of the Messiah.

  2. Rahab, as I mentioned is on the list too. She, as the OT Book of Joshua (2:1) attests, was a prostitute. However, the NT praises both her faith and good works (Heb. 11:31 and Jas. 2:25). She hid the Israelite spies who had infiltrated Jericho. In doing so, she facilitated the capture of the city. When the walls came tumbling down, (Jos. 6:20), only Rahab and her family were spared.

  3. Of the four women, Ruth comes off the best in the scriptures. She is first married to a Jewish refugee, Chilion. When she is widowed, she marries a relative of her husband (Boaz). Their son is the grandfather of David, the boy who slew Goliath and became King of Israel. (Her sister-in-law, by the way, was Orpah. Our famous Oprah was named in her honor. But Oprah's mother misspelled the word.

  1. The fourth lady is Bathsheba, who sinned with David. David had her husband (Uriah) killed in battle (2 Sam. 11:11), and then married her. Their second child was Solomon, renowned for his wisdom.

Why list such people? Well, because in doing so, St. Matthew is teaching us that it is the Spirit of God that guides human history. God uses the unexpected to bring his plan to true fulfilment.

 

We are, after all, wayfarers in search in the search for truth By way of example, Lou Wallace was the author of the book Ben Hur, later made into a mash-hit movie starring Charleton Heston. Lou Wallace had no belief in God, so he researched the era of Jesus to see whether our Lord had actually lived. During his quest, Wallace was led to the Faith and was converted. If you check the title of his book, you will note it reads, Ben Hur. the Story of Christ. We are all a part of the story of Christ. As St. Peter says in today's Second Reading, we share a faith as "a chosen race, a people set apart whom God claims as his own" (1 Pt. 2:9).

And speaking of women...

Today we honor our mothers, those spirit-filled women who have shaped us. It is around them that every marriage dances.

Motherhood calls for the disposition of an angel, the mind of a teacher. and the vision of a prophet. It demands the patience of a saint, the fortitude of an explorer and the gentle strength of a surgeon.

"Youth fades," wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes. "Love droops. The leaves of friendship fall. A mother's secret hope outlives them all"

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