Fifth Sunday of Easter (C)
"I give you a new commandment: love one another."
The Word This Week
We are now closer to Ascension and Pentecost than Easter, but we are still in the Easter Season. The readings this Sunday begin to move us along too, as once more we hear the Lord at the Last Supper preparing his disciples for his departure: he does this by giving them a rule to live by, a new commandment. This commandment, love one another, is to be the guiding light of the community of believers after Pentecost (check the first reading for the Second Sunday of Easter) it is the risen Lords parting gift to his Church.
Notes for Readers
We hear more from Paul and Barnabas: this might seem a little redundant, after last weeks reading. Is it just a repetition of what we heard last week? A key phrase is they put fresh heart in the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith . Preaching the Gospel, just as living it out, is not a once and for all moment, but a journey of perseverance, with its ups and downs, which Paul and Barnabas describe in this reading. Perhaps it is a suitable for us, as we journey through the long Season of Easter, to reflect on perseverance in the mission of living out the commandment we will hear in the Gospel today. Make sure that the first paragraph is taken slowly and clearly for all this to come out. Dont panic at the list of names in the second paragraph just make sure you have a go at them beforehand! Also make sure that the final paragraph is not delivered as an afterthought!
John's vision gets more and more dramatic week by week: last week we saw the huge crowd of the faithful, and this week our view is stretched beyond even that to see a completely new heaven and earth! Reading this vision will demand a breadth and spaciousness there should be an awe-struck quality about your reading (without over-dramatising!) It should probably be taken quite slowly there are a lot of important phrases and beautiful images, and you must take care that the congregation has time to absorb them. A final point: this reading is often used at funerals. Perhaps, as you read, you can think of the comfort that these words offer, not just to the bereaved, but to all of us: the resurrection is at the very centre of our faith, and we need to hear about it applied to our own lives. It may be that you, or someone in your congregation, really needs to hear this Word of the Lord today: make sure that it speaks to them!
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