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Seventh Sunday of Easter (C)

The Word This Week

This is an unusual "in between" Sunday - in between the Lord's return to the Father?'s right hand at Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Church's tradition is to spend this time 'in between' in prayer, as did Mary and the Apostles, waiting for the promised gift of the Spirit. The Gospel for this Sunday is part of the 'priestly prayer' of Christ from the Last Supper - a prayer full of concern for his friends - for us, the Church. Eastertide has been all about the Church, and this Sunday is no exception: the vision of Stephen in the first reading, who sees heaven thrown open and is thus able to pray "Do not hold this sin against them" is a vision of what the Church must be - a community of love and mercy, always inspired (that is, guided by the Spirit) by the presence of Jesus. The Church is itself the community 'in between' the Lord?'s first and second coming: as we await the Spirit next Sunday, Saint John gives us the final vision of our destiny: "let everyone who listens answer 'Come!"'

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 7:55-60

This is a very straightforward reading, which should present few difficulties. As always with a story, make sure you take your time, so that the congregation can use their imaginations and see what you are describing. Given that this Sunday if full of ex-pectation of the coming of the Holy Spirit, make sure you don’t lose the first phrase, especially the words “Filled with the Holy Spirit.” The little throw away reference to “Saul” is important – it is this Saul who will later become Saint Paul, whose letters you proclaim almost every week! Notice the change of tone – the reading is in three sections: Stephen’s vision, the anger of the council, and the strange contradiction at the end – the very moment of his stoning is filled with peace and prayer. Make sure you find the right voice for each of these three sections.

Second Reading: Apocalypse 22:12-14.16-17.20

The notes for last Sunday advised you to see the triumphant glory of Saint John’s vision of the holy city. This week needs to be even more exciting! Notice that all the sentences are short – almost abrupt. This can express a breathless excitement. Remember that the voice John hears is the voice of Jesus: you have a special responsibility here, since normally the words of the Lord are only read by the priest in the Gospel. Take your time, putting in plenty of pauses (though not so long or so many that the reading loses its dramatic momentum). Save something for the last two paragraphs, which are quite unique in the scriptures that you proclaim: notice the repetition of the word “Come,” and emphasise this. Save a big pause before the last paragraph and read it with a Paschal solemnity!


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