Word To Life
Sunday Scripture Readings, May 5, 2013
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
May 5, Sixth Sunday of Easter
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
2) Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
Gospel: John 14:23-29
This weekend's readings offer pointed assurance that a committed love for our loving God is all that is necessary for the salvation of his faithful followers.
The story in Acts shows the elders of the earliest Christian church wanting to assure their gentile brothers that certain strict requirements for salvation (based on old Jewish law), told to them previously, were off-base.
Concerned that such misguided teaching had upset and disturbed these new Christians, the elders sent their representatives, men dedicated to Christ, to set things right. They renewed the people's peace of mind toward their faith with the promise that what was needed for salvation was to respect God and follow his ways.
Misguided teaching continues to disturb and upset would-be followers of Jesus even today.
But in the Gospel, Jesus said, "My peace I give to you," and he offered this peace in the person of his Holy Spirit. As a Christian community, we are called to embody his Spirit -- and provide his peace -- through loving God and one another.
A woman I met recently at a rite of election ceremony described to me the peace she felt in coming to understand the loving, forgiving nature of Jesus as she prepared for her baptism.
"It was exactly what I imagined," Pam said, "not what I'd been told in the old church." She was referring to an image of God imprinted on her since childhood in an independent rural church deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Such congregations, common to the region, are often led by self-styled preachers spouting hellfire and damnation and suggesting irrational requirements for salvation to inspire fear, rather than love, in the hearts of those who would seek heaven.
The image of a vindictive God never rang true with Pam and disturbed her peace of mind. "I'd always read the Bible, but I wondered, am I reading it right?" Pam said. "I wondered about heaven and whether, when I die, am I going to be there?"
Imagine her relief as a true picture of Christian life unfolded before her. The embrace of the priest and people of faith in her new church community assured her that loving God and caring for others was all that was necessary. Her questions about heaven? She smiled, "Now I know."
That is the peace Jesus gives.
When have you witnessed people seeking God being disturbed by misinformation or lack of understanding? As a member of the body of Christ, how can you help to bring the light of truth, and with it peace in faith, where it is needed?
SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:
"The Advocate, the Holy Spirit ... will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you." -- John 14:26-27
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