5th Sunday of Easter, Year A
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19 (22)
1 Peter 2:4-9
May 7, 2023
The first half of today’s gospel reading is probably the gospel reading most selected at funerals. It makes sense.
Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” The death of a loved one is a difficult time for us. To comfort us, Jesus tells us that He goes to prepare a place for us in his Father’s House. Is this not exactly what we want to hear, what we need to hear when a loved one dies? Jesus has a place ready for them in Heaven.
I think most people would be fine if the reading at funerals stopped there but it doesn’t. If it stopped there, Heaven would seem guaranteed for everyone but Heaven is not a guarantee.
Yes, Jesus died so that our sins can be forgiven. God wants every single person to be in Heaven but we have a choice to make.
Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Certainly, to come to the Father, we need the forgiveness Jesus brings. We also need to follow Jesus as “the way and the truth and the life.”
Jesus does not say He is one way or that He is part of the truth. He says He is the way and the truth and the life. Remember what Jesus said last week, “I am the gate.”
If you want to get into Heaven, Jesus is the way. He is the gate through which we must pass. You don’t get to do things your own way and then expect to stroll into Heaven. Of course, Jesus stands ready to forgive us but we have to be repentant. That means we must desire to follow Jesus as the way and the truth and the life.
We identify ourselves as Christian disciples but what does that mean?
A disciple is a student learning from a teacher. Jesus is the teacher of God’s truth. Do we make his Truth our own?
Jesus tells us, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus is the way to eternal life with the Father. He and the Father are one.
Do we allow “ourselves to be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifice?” Or do we think we are our own creator, that we can determine our own way?
We can determine our own way but there are consequences to our choice. If we choose Jesus as our way, making him the cornerstone upon which we build our lives, our place in Heaven awaits us. Choose otherwise…and Satan has a place for you.
I said discipleship involves being students learning from Jesus as our teacher. There is another element to discipleship.
It is not enough to learn our faith from Jesus.
We must put our faith into action.
Here, we can turn to our first reading. The Twelve Apostles were in charge of the church. So, “the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected.”
Did the Twelve say they would take care of this themselves?
They said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.” This was not them saying they were too good to serve at table. Rather, they realized that they were not called to do everything themselves.
They knew others were called to take care of the “daily distribution.”
They called for the selection of others to this task and then prayed over those selected as they appointed them to the task.
Having done so, “The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly.” I wonder if the Twelve had tried to handle the “daily distribution” themselves, would the number of disciples have continued to grow. Maybe they would not have had time to tend to the “ministry of the word” and the spread of the faith would have stagnated.
If you have been reading the bulletin in recent weeks, you know we have asked for new volunteers for music, for altar servers, and to help with the flower and bake sale.
It is not my job to do everything. It is not the job of the staff and deacons to do everything. We cannot accomplish all that needs to be done without the help of our parishioners.
What is God calling you to do? Maybe you don’t have the gift of music. Maybe you can’t help with the flower sale because of allergies. How about helping with our Community Table or stuffing envelopes or…
Maybe you want to volunteer but are waiting to be asked for the right opportunity? Then, I suggest you let us know what type of gifts you have and then pray we can identify the right ministry for you.
So, as disciples, I invite everyone to think about what you do to learn more of the truth that Jesus’ teaches us and how God is calling you to put your faith into action.