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5th Sunday of Easter, Year A

5th Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 6:1-7
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19 (22)
1 Peter 2:4-9
John 14:1-12
May 10, 2020

Today’s gospel is a familiar one to many, at least the first half.  The first six verses are often chosen as the gospel reading at funerals.  In that setting, our hearts are troubled because we have lost a loved one.  At a funeral, Jesus’ words, “that I am going to prepare a place for you,” are words of great comfort, assuring us that Jesus has a place in Heaven for all who believe in him as “the way and the truth and the life.”

Of course, the death of a loved one is not the only thing that might cause our hearts to be troubled.

Our hearts might be troubled by a broken relationship.

Our hearts might be troubled because of a serious illness, the loss of a job, or uncertainty in the future.  We might face the suffering ourselves or it might be a loved one who is suffering.  Either way, we embrace Jesus’ words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

Sometimes we feel like we face our troubles alone yet we know God is always with us.  Sometimes we face our troubles together like with the Coronavirus.  We don’t all face identical troubles because of the Coronavirus but we know that we are not alone.

After Pentecost the early church “continued to grow.”  Unfortunately, the long-term trend right now is that we are a shrinking church.  Fewer and fewer people come to church.

We might all be wondering what attendance will be like after we reopen.  It doesn’t necessarily have to shrink.  There are those who faith is being made stronger (https://catholiccourier.com/articles/polls-show-faith-is-getting-americans-through-the-coronavirus-crisis?fbclid=IwAR3GbA4jgxb8rP4GFrTZf7tcXvSp_lj78InpvM8sk5uK0XQ28EqPmvSr2Tk).  There are also those who hadn’t been coming to church who are watching Mass now.  We welcome them back.

The Coronavirus is a struggle that causes us trouble.  We cannot gather as we would like.  We cannot serve one another as we would like.  Collections are affected (thank you to those who have continued to give and we pray for those who are out of work and can’t give). 

Yet the Coronavirus might lead to more ministry.  With your faith made stronger, you might look for a new way to help.  For example, you might think about how you feel trapped at home and use that as motivation going forward to care for those who are permanently homebound.

There are various ways to minister.  We don’t all need to do the exact same things.  The Twelve were devoted “to the ministry of the word.”  When there were problems with the “daily distribution”, they didn’t try to take care of it by themselves.  They appointed seven others to this task.

It isn’t the job of priests to do everything.  It isn’t for the parish staff to do everything.  We all need to work together to build up the Kingdom of God.

We might feel down right now but think of the good things that the Lord has done for us, and “give thanks to the Lord” with an “attitude of gratitude”.

Yes, things may be tough right now.  People are turning to Jesus who is “a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God.” 

Do we make Jesus our cornerstone?

Do we, as Peter writes, “let yourselves be built into a spiritual house”?

Sometimes we think we need to fix all our problems ourselves.  In doing so, we try to build ourselves into what we want to be.  How does “what we want to be” correspond to the Lord’s Prayer where we say “thy will be done”?

So, instead of building ourselves into what we want to be, we need to allow God to build us into what He wants us to be.

We need to put effort into this.  The effort begins with knowing God so that we come to know what He wants us to do.  Our effort needs to include prayer to allow us to discern what God calls us to do individually and as a church that spans the world.

Jesus is “the way and truth and the life.  He shows us the way.  He shows us the Father.  The Father and the Son send us the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us.

God has a plan. 

I do not believe God caused the Coronavirus but He does have a plan to get us through it and what to do after the virus.

I end with the words of Peter from the end of today’s second reading, “You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

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