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Easter: May 5th

Sixth Sunday of Easter


May 05, 2024 (Readings on USCCB website)



Sixth Sunday of Easter: Grant, almighty God, that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy, which we keep in honor of the risen Lord, and that what we relieve in remembrance we may always hold to in what we do. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


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As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15:9-13).

Commentary on the Sunday Mass Readings for the Sixth Sunday, Year B:
The First Reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 and describes the reception of the first Gentiles into the Christian Church.

The Second Reading is from the First Letter of John 4:7-10 in which he urges us to love one another, for we are sons of God whose very essence is love.

The Gospel is from St. John 15:9-17. It is only a few weeks since Good Friday when we commemorated the agonizing death of Christ on Mount Calvary. This was an excruciating, shameful death even for hardened criminals who deserved it. But for our loving Savior, the innocent lamb of God, one who had never offended God or neighbor, it was something of which the whole human race should be ashamed forever. What caused Christ that torment and death on the cross was our sins, the sins of all mankind and not the spite and hatred of his Jewish opponents, who were only instruments in the tragedy. Atonement had to be made to God for the sins of the world, so that men could reach the eternal inheritance which the incarnation made available to them. However, not all the acts of the entire human race could make a sufficient atonement to God. A sacrifice, an expiation of infinite value was needed. The death of the Son of God in his human nature was alone capable of making such an expiation.

That Christ willingly accepted crucifixion for our sakes, that he gave the greatest proof of love which the world has ever known, by laying down his life for his friends, did not make his sufferings any less, did not ease any of the pains of Calvary. His agony in the Garden before his arrest shows this: he foresaw all the tortures and pains which he was to undergo and sweated blood at the thought of what awaited him. But he was to keep his Father's commandment "not my will but thine be done." We Christians must have hearts of stone, hearts devoid of all sense of gratitude, when we forget what Christ has done for us and deliberately offend him! Alas, this is what all of us do sometimes, and many of us do all the time. Christ died to bring us to heaven but we tell him, by our sins, that he was wasting his time. We do not want to go to heaven, we are making our happiness here!

How far can human ingratitude and thanklessness go? Christ told us, through the disciples on Holy Thursday night, that he had made us his friends, his intimates. We are no longer servants in the household, who merely earn their daily wage and have no intimacy with the family and no hope of ever sharing in the family possessions. Instead, we have been adopted into the family by Christ becoming man, we have been guaranteed all the rights of children intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the future sharing in the eternal happiness of that divine household. Christ's incarnation made us God's children; Christ's death on the cross removed sin. Sin is the one obstacle that could prevent us reaching our eternal inheritance.

Because God gave us a free will we can in a moment of folly, a moment of madness really, deprive ourselves of the privileges and possessions which Christ has made available to us. We can choose to exchange an eternity of happiness for a few fleeting years of self-indulgence on earth. We can fling Christ's gift of love back in his face and tell him we don't want it. God forbid that we should ever act like this, that we should ever forget God's purpose in creating us. It is a marvelous thing to be alive, if we have hope in a future life. If nothing awaited us but the grave, then to live on this earth, which is a valley of sorrow and tears for the vast majority, would be the cruelest of jests. But of this we need have no fear. Life on earth is but a short prelude to our real existence. If we use this brief period as Christ has told us how to use it, death for us will be the passage into the eternal mansions. Be grateful to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; love the Blessed Trinity; prove your love by loving your fellowmen. By doing this you are fulfilling the whole law and the prophets; and you are assuring yourself of the place in heaven which Christ has won for you.
—Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.

Meditation for the Fifth Sunday of Easter:
"If you ask anything in My Name"

1. "Declare it with the voice of joy and let it be heard, alleluia; declare it even to the ends of the earth: The Lord hath delivered His people, alleluia" (Introit). From the Christian point of view the most important of all truths is the fact that men have been redeemed and that they are the children of God. Now heaven has been opened again to us, and so, too, the heart of the Father. "Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you."

2. "Hitherto you have not asked anything in My name." It is true that the apostles had asked the Lord: "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1), and He had taught them how to say the Our Father. And indeed, they had asked Him for an increase of faith. But as yet they had not prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus, basing their request on the fact of His death or on the merits of the blood that He had shed. This was not possible for them, since it was necessary that the Lord first pour forth His blood and sacrifice His life on the cross. It was necessary that He first, as the high priest of the New Covenant "having obtained eternal redemption" by His own blood, enter once into the holy of holies (Heb. 9:12). The Lord begins to exercise His office as our intermediary at the time of His ascension. Thus previous to that time the apostles could not ask in His name.

Only after His death and resurrection and ascension, only after the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, only then did they begin to understand that no one can pray in the name of Jesus unless he bases his prayers on Christ's merits, on His suffering and death, and offers his prayers to the Father through the merits of the blood of Christ. Only he can come to the Father who is one in spirit with the crucified Christ. Only he can expect to be heard who, like the Lord, is willing to be obedient even to death, and who can say with Jesus, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me" (John 4:34). Only when we have acquired the spirit of Christ, His point of view, conformity to the will of God, can we actually pray in the name of Jesus. Then our prayers will be united to His prayers and incorporated in them, to be acknowledged by Him as His own and offered by Him to His Father. Such prayers will certainly be answered.

"Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full." Our Savior has given the solemn promise, in His own name and in the name of His Father, that "whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, that will I do" (John 14:13). In prayer we have an unfailing means for obtaining light, power, and grace from God. "For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened" (Luke 11:10). He who fails to ask, will not receive; he who asks little, shall receive but little; while he who asks much, will receive much. This divine rule in the order of grace is borne out by experience and by the history of the Church. It is the law that "to the humble [God] giveth grace" (I Pet. 5:5); and "He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away" (Luke 1:53). In prayer we abandon ourselves and go to the Father. Why? We become conscious of our own nothingness and misery; in all humility we acknowledge our nothingness and our insufficiency; we humbly confess that we are unable to help ourselves, that we cannot live by ourselves, and that of ourselves we can accomplish nothing. For this reason we lift our hearts to God, for "every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17). Thus we throw open the doors of our being to the infinity of God, that His light and power may stream in.

Prayer is the respiration of the soul; the soul exhales its own nothingness and inhales God. Prayer is the abandonment of self and a dedication to God. If we would preserve and nourish the life of God which we received in baptism, then we must breathe forth ourselves into God and inhale the light and the power of God. This we do in prayer. There is no grace without prayer. Only he who casts himself down in humility, only he who can abandon himself and his own nothingness, only he who absorbs God—only he can be helped. Only those who ask shall receive.

3. "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you." We ask the Father in the name of Jesus principally when we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the proper spirit. This we do by taking into our hands His sacred body and His precious blood, the price of our salvation, and offering them up to the Father. "We Thy servants [the priest], and also Thy holy people, . . . offer up to Thy most excellent majesty, from among Thy gifts and presents, a pure victim, a holy victim, a spotless victim, the holy bread of life everlasting and the chalice of eternal salvation" (Canon). Here His sufferings, His blood, and His death speak for us. Here He acts as our advocate and makes our needs the object of His priestly prayer, a prayer which is all-powerful with God. He is our intercessor and intermediary. Now His promise is fulfilled: "Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full." Then the Lord who was sacrificed for us comes into our hearts at Holy Communion. Our hearts now become His dwelling place, where He lives and prays. He elevates our prayers with His own and makes them a part of His adoration, His thanksgiving, His praise. The small grain of incense which is our prayer He puts into the thurible of His praying heart. Thus it becomes a part of His own perfect prayer and rises up to the Father like the smoke of incense. "Through Him and with Him and in Him" the Father receives from us also "all honor and glory."

"Alleluia, I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again I leave the world and I go to the Father, alleluia." He is our advocate with the Father, He has opened heaven to us again and made our approach to the Father possible. Now since we are children of the Father, we are free to speak and say, "Our Father." Christ, who is our elder brother, prays with us and in us. We pray with Him and in Him and in His name, basing our claims on His merits.

Thus our prayer becomes all-powerful, but only under one condition: "If any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation, and to keep one's self unspotted from this world."
—Benedict Bauer, O.S.B, from The Light of the World, Vol II