Today we are being reminded to keep Jesus at the centre of everything we do as Christians. We see in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles how the early Church had to adapt and evolve to keep Christ at the centre.
The early Church had people from different traditions, nationalities and background’s, meaning that there was the potential for disputes to arise. The Apostles recognised this and asked the other disciples to nominate some from among the faithful to take on some of the pastoral roles within the early Church. Seven men were chosen to serve, these are recognised today as the first deacons, the word deacon coming from the Greek diakonos, meaning servant.
As Jesus gave an example at the Last Supper of serving; so too are we all as Christians asked to serve those in need. Ordained deacons are those who have received formation and, like the apostles did for those first seven men, the bishop; as successor to the apostles; lays his hands on those chosen to serve as deacons.
The Apostles, by deciding to delegate the tasks of serving the Community to those first seven men, were then free to keep Jesus at the centre of their lives, allowing them to continue to help spread the Good News.
In the second reading St Peter writes that Jesus, who had been rejected by the Jews, was the keystone for the Salvation of mankind. He added that for those who could not or would not accept Jesus as the keystone then they would find that the keystone would become a stumbling block which would bring them down. St Peter said that believers in Jesus have become part of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, we are a people set apart to sing the praises of God, who has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
When I hear the Gospel used today, I am taken back to the days when I was still at primary school and was an altar server at my local Parish. This text was used at many funerals, and I am certain it brought comfort to those who were mourning. When Jesus said “In my Father’s house there are many rooms”, He was telling us there is a place for us, and that he would ensure it is prepared for us.
In the second part of this Gospel reading, we are reminded how we can reach that place. It is only through Jesus; as the Way, the Truth and the Life; that we can get to our heavenly home. As we were told in last week’s readings, we need to listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice; as all other voices who claim to lead us home are thieves and brigands.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Fifth Sunday of Easter
CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 661, 1025-1026, 2795: Christ opens for us the way to heaven
CCC 151, 1698, 2614, 2466: believing in Jesus
CCC 1569-1571: the order of deacons
CCC 782, 803, 1141, 1174, 1269, 1322: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood”
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The success of the pastoral area formation programme ‘The Wild Goose’ which we are using as part of the Year of the Holy Spirit.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- All who are preparing to receive Sacraments for the first time.
- Those attending the RCIA programme at St Bede’s on Wednesday evenings.
- Those discerning a vocation.
- Those preparing to be ordained to the priesthood or diaconate.