The new heavens and the new earth will become a reality through the Apostles (Church) preaching.
And they will be the mature fruit of the commandment given by Jesus, as the fullness of the Law given at Mount Sinai.
FIRST READING ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 14:21-27
Ø At the beginning of the Easter season I said that I would give more information about the book of the Acts.
Ø The last weeks we have been reflecting on the meaning of the book of Revelation, which we use for the second reading.
Ø Today we will go back to the book of the Acts.
Ø With chapter 13, in which we read that the community of Antioch sends Paul and Barnabas in a mission, we start the third and last part of this book.
Ø The Acts describe for us different communities or local churches with different organization and different names for the leadership or servants. That means that we learn about different models of the Church.
o The church of Antioch is presided over by 5 leaders of whom Luke gives the names in chapter 13,1.
o This list begins with the name of Barnabas and ends with the name of Paul. Luke calls them prophets and teachers.
o Luis Alonso Schökel in his commentary on the Biblia de nuestro Pueblo says:
§ Luke helps us to see how the movement of the Spirit fashions the different churches,
§ Calling their members to be leaders, facilitators, responsible of the community with different functions and different titles according to the needs of each community
§ With a great participation in decision making.
o The Apostles are the leaders in the community of Jerusalem, besides them we hear that some men are called deacons and others elders or presbyters.
o Luke does not tell us how the five leaders of Antioch planned the first mission of Paul and Barnabas, but
o What they say is that
§ The initiative comes from the Holy Spirit
§ The preparation was done through fasting and prayer.
Ø Paul and Barnabas continue their mission which they began from Antioch, as we read on the Fourth Sunday of Easter.
Ø We learned that they had difficulties with the Jews and they decided to go to the Gentiles to announce them the Good News of Jesus. We learned also that the Gentiles were happy about that decision.
Ø Today we find them visiting several towns, establishing in them new communities (churches) and appointing elders to lead the community. To select them again they fast and pray, afterwards they command them to the grace of God, and leave to another town.
Ø They continue their way back to Antioch from where they left sent by the community.
Ø On their arrival they reported to the community how the Lord had opened the doors of faith to the Gentiles.
Ø To us, the descendants of those first Gentiles, the doors of faith were opened to us through the sacrament of Baptism
Ø This year the universal Church celebrates this gift of faith, received when the doors of faith were opened to us.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM 145
I WILL PRAISE YOUR NAME FOREVER, MY KING AND MY GOD.
The Lord is gracious and merciful
Slow to anger and of great kindness
The Lord is good to all
And compassionate toward all his works.
Let all your Works give you thanks, O Lord,
And let your faithful ones bless you
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
And speak of your might.
Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
And the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages
And your dominion endures through all generations. .
« Many of the psalms are hymns to God who makes himsef known through creation and through history.
« They are psalms of praise used usually for worship
« They may be organized as follows
o Hymns to God the Creator and the Lord of the Covenant, the God of history.
o Hymns to God as King.
o Royal psalms (about the King )
o Canticles to Zion.
« Psalm 145 which we will pray on Sunday belongs to the group of Hymns to the Creator and Lord.
SECOND READING Rev 21:1-5a
ü Last Sunday we left John contemplating a huge multitude of men and women….
ü Today almost at the end of the Book of Revelation John sees again something he describes to us. He says that he sees the new heavens and the new earth, and that the sea is no more.
o New heavens and new earth, new creation made through the redemption of Christ, where sin is eliminated, and death as well.
o This is the fruit of Christ’s death on the cross. This fruit will reach its fullness when all of us, men and women, open up ourselves to the gift of redemption which Christ wants to give to us. When all of us will be ready to walk together through the way that leads to the Father, led by the hand of Christ the Lord.
o The former earth, where sin abides, does not exist anymore, not because God will destroy his wonderful creation, but because he will destroy our sin, to allow the new earth, the new society to develop, where love, peace, justice, brotherhood … will reign.
o The sea does not exist anymore, because in the Scriptures the sea is the symbol of sin, and it will not have a place in the new earth, it has already been destroyed by Christ.
o John sees also the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven, the city becomes the bride adorned for her husband. She is the new creation, the new earth and the new heavens
o From the throne a voice is heard, remember that the Father and also the Lamb are on the throne, the voice invites us to look at, what?
§ The dwelling of God among men and women
§ He will dwell with them and
§ They will be his people
§ The New Covenant prophesized by Jeremiah becomes a reality (Jer 31,33.)
§ He will wipe every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.
o The One who seats on the throne says: BEHOLD I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW.
GOSPEL Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35
The liturgy takes us back to the conversation of Jesus with his Apostles, after the meal at his Last Supper, before going to the cross. During the meal he gives to us the Sacrament of his Body and blood. He also gives to his own the most beautiful and sacred teaching from among all his teachings.
I GIVE YOU A NEW COMMANDMENT:
o LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
o AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, SO YOU ALSO SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
o THIS IS HOW ALL WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES,
o IF YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.
We call this commandment the “new commandment”, as a matter of fact Jesus calls it so
o But it is really the fullness of the Law proclaimed by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai
o And before that He had carved this law in the heart of every man and every woman who comes to this world.
o If those of us, followers of Jesus, who have been baptized into his death and resurrection
§ Live this commandment, that is we make it a reality in our daily life
§ And we proclaim it with our words as Paul and Barnabas did
§ The new earth and the new heaven will be a reality, which we do not have to wait after our death to enjoy it, because it is already among us from the moment that Jesus nailed all our sins on his cross.
§ Now we have to play our part, we need to open up to his gift, and get ready to work so that others may be able to enjoy what we already enjoy.
§ LET US PUT OUR HANDS TO THE TASK, LET US BEGIN WITH ENTHUSIASM AND FIRE IN OUR HEART. JESUS WALKS WITH US, AND LOVES IN AND THROUGH US EVERYONE. LET US MAKE HIS PRESENCE AND LOVE VISIBLE IN OUR LIVES.
I wrote it to him but he would not come because what I said since he is very obedient to the prelate and this one wrote to him to continue with the construction. But our Lord knew how to provide that the prelate himself wrote him to come – I do not remember for what convenient matter, far different from what God our Lord wanted to entrust to him. So, he arrived days after the Bull arrived from Rome. Here I saw clearly that it was true what His Majesty had told me: that it was necessary for him to come from Puerto Principe. Oh how I admire the providence of God for his creatures, and how great is the one he has had for this sinner! Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 76.
The greater the sacrifice involved, the more meritorious, splendid, winsome, and overwhelming is any act of virtue.
A man who is base, vile, stingy, and cowardly never sacrifices--nor can he because he never resists the slightest whim or urging of his concupiscence. All that his concupiscence asks for--if it is within his power to grant or refuse it—he grants, refusing nothing to his passion. Because he is a cringing coward, he lets himself be overcome and gives in to it. In a fight between a brave man and a coward, the brave man wins. In a fight between vice and a man of vice, vice wins and pins the man down. This is why continence and chastity are praised so highly: because they enable a man to abstain from the pleasures and delights that nature and passion offer him. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 416-417.
CLARET, Antonio María , Autobiography.
FLOR SERRANO, Gonzalo, “Introduction and Commentary to the Psalms” en Comentario al Antiguo Testamento II – La Casa de la Biblia, 1997, 3ª. Edición.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiography.
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según Las Escrituras, Año C, 2006
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, commentary to the Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo, 2010