Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life
The Word This Week
We continue to explore the meaning of baptism, of membership of the Church, of living a life which has been immersed in the life and death of Jesus Christ: in other words, we continue our Mystagogy - our training in the mystery of Baptism and the other Sacraments. We hear more about who Jesus is, with another I am statement: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. We are baptised into his way, his truth and his life.
We hear about the earliest community struggling with the life they are called to by baptism, and Peter again reminds us that baptism builds us into a spiritual house with Jesus as our cornerstone. The mystery of the Church is clearly before us today: the Church is the community of those baptised in Christ, the pilgrim people walking with Christ (who has shown us the Father) to the place he has prepared for us. Todays reading can perhaps make us think a little about how we form part of this spiritual house, the Church, as we journey to the Father.
Notes for Readers
Nothing in this world is perfect for long - the same is, of course, true of the first community of disciples. Having started so well, we see the cracks appearing today: some members were converts from Judaism, some had been pagans before baptism. These two groups within the Church were disagreeing about the common distribution of food - a very practical problem, not a complex theological issue!
The solution is, literally, inspired: the establishing of a new ministry to care for this particular question, and to leave the apostles free to pray and proclaim the Word.
In reading this passage there are few problems (apart from the list of names - dont worry too much about them: read them as they are written). The effectiveness of your proclamation of the reading depends greatly on your own understanding: perhaps the key element is the apostles concern for the word of God, which drives them to find a practical solution so quickly. (Perhaps also the emphasis on the ministry of the Word may help you come to a deeper understanding of your own ministry as a reader.)
Peter, in this section of his letter, develops an image: the image of Christ as the keystone, or cornerstone of the building which is the Church. This image has its origin in scripture (Psalm 117, which we sang at the Easter Vigil), and would have been familiar to those reading Peters letter. It is less familiar to us, so take care with the reading, announcing the image with care: The Lord is the living stone... - if you dont say stone clearly, people will lose the image. Throughout the reading, when the word you appears, remember that these words are addressed to the congregation this morning: Peter is explaining to us the meaning of our baptism into the Lord Jesus.