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Old Calendar: Fifth Sunday after Easter
"Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." We are not alone or without help in the life that we have embraced. The Church strengthens our faith and feeds our souls "with the pure milk of her teaching, with the bread of the Eucharist; she makes us witnesses of Christ's resurrection and of the victory which He won over the forces of evil." Click here for commentary on the readings in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
The first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2, 22-29 and concerns the Council of Jerusalem which falls in the middle of the book of Acts and describes the turning point for the Church when the council officially recognized the evangelization of the Gentiles. This evangelization had been initiated by Sts. Peter, Barnabas and Paul. Thus, the Christian church broke away from the Mosaic rules while maintaining its roots in the rich theology and traditions of the chosen people.
The second reading
is from the Book of Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 and continues the description of the Heavenly Jerusalem. In the heavenly Jerusalem there is no longer any need for God to have a dwelling-place, because God the Father himself and the Lamb are always present. The Godhead does not need to be brought to mind by the temple (the symbol of his invisible presence), because the blessed will always see God face to face. This sight of God is what causes the righteous to be forever happy.
is from John 14:23-29. In the first reading at today's Mass, we were given the story of the first General Council ever held by the Church authorities. There we saw that a vital decision was reached through the guidance and assistance of the Holy Spirit. "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and ours" (Acts 15:28) was how the authorities announced the conclusion they had reached. In this Gospel which we have just read, Christ promised his Apostles, the night before his death, that when he returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit would be sent to them. He would teach them all things and recall to their minds all that Christ had taught them. In other words, the Church, through the Apostles, was promised the direct assistance of the Holy Spirit in preserving and interpreting what we call "the deposit of faith" or the sum total of the divine revelation given to us for our sanctification.
That promise was fulfilled in a very solemn way within twenty years of our Lord's resurrection at the Council of Jerusalem. It has been fulfilled again and again down through the history of the Church. And this has been the case not only on the solemn occasions of General Councils, or when definitions concerning faith and morals were given ex cathedra
by the Pope, but in many circumstances of less solemnity.
The Holy Spirit "breathes where he wills." He assists the local authorities in the Church. He inspires individual Christians if they call on him in their need. He inspires young people of both sexes to offer their lives to the service of the Church and their neighbor. He has inspired founders of orders and congregations to form institutes which would help the spread of the faith. He is at work today among us and among the separated brothers of the Church, helping and inspiring them towards that unity for which Christ prayed.
There are moments of crisis in all our lives, moments when a vital decision has to be made. If that decision is wrongly made it may not only seriously interfere with our earthly welfare, but more important still jeopardize our eternal salvation. We should call on the Holy Spirit to help us daily, but we should call for his assistance especially when we have a serious decision to make.
His role in the Church and in the lives of all Christians is to preserve and protect the revelation that God has given us. There are times in the lives of many of us when we are tempted to doubt about what we are called on to believe, or to hesitate with regard to what we are called on to do. It is on such occasions that the help of the Holy Spirit is especially necessary. He will not fail us if we turn to him earnestly and sincerely.
Excepted from The Sunday Readings
, Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
Commentary for the Readings in the Extraordinary Form:
Fifth Sunday after Easter
"If you ask the Father anything in My Name, He will give it to you. . .Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full" (Gospel).
Petition Sunday, followed by Rogation Days! We petition the Father's blessing upon springtime planting in the fields; yes, and in our souls. We ask in the "Name" of Jesus. He intercedes for us with the Father.
We must ask only for what keeps us on the Christian road. "I go to the Father," is the signpost on this road to which Jesus points. The Epistle warns us of a dangerous detour, if we ignore this road guide. Religion is vain unless one be a "doer" and not a "hearer" only. "Religion pure and undefiled" in our interior life, means keeping "oneself unspotted;" in our social life, it means the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to all "in their tribulation."
Excerpted from My Sunday Missal
, Confraternity of the Precious Blood