5th Sunday of Easter, Year A

 Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown on Level 4

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 Leader:          ln the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 All reply:        Amen

 Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 All reply:        Blessed be God for ever

 Leader:          One way of approaching the Easter season is to imagine a great tree that thrusts its roots deep down in the soil even as its trunk and branches grow upwards and outwards. The hidden roots draw nourishment from deep under the earth and fuel the visible growth of the tree.

The gospel readings for the next few Sundays, taken from Jesus’ farewell speech to his disciples in the gospel of John, invite us on an interior journey into the depths of our hearts. It is there that Jesus makes his home in us; it is there that the Paraclete teaches us all wisdom. As our faith is fed from deep within, the stronger is our desire to let love loose in the world.

The stories from the Acts of the Apostles take us on an outer journey. They allow us to be present at the birth of the early Church and to accompany its first steps. Under the impetus of the Holy Spirit the Christian way begins to spread. It starts to take shape for all to see. In Eastertide the Church drinks deeply from the well-spring of the Spirit and finds fresh inspiration for its mission in the world.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

First Reading: Acts 6:1-7

Introduction to the reading: In Jerusalem at the time of Christ, some Jewish people spoke Greek, others spoke Aramaic; and each group went to its own synagogue. It appears that the apostles were among those who spoke Aramaic. In today’s reading, we will hear some of the problems this created in the Christian community and how these were addressed.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

In these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

The Word of the Lord.

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm beginning and ending with the response:

R/: May your merciful love be upon us, as we hope in you, O Lord.

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;

for praise is fitting for the upright.

Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp;

with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.

 

For the word of the Lord is faithful,

and his works to be trusted.

The Lord loves justice and right,

and his merciful love fills the earth.

 

Yes, the Lord’s eyes are on those who fear him,

who hope in his merciful love,

to rescue their souls from death,

to keep them alive in famine.

 

R/: May your merciful love be upon us, as we hope in you, O Lord.

 

Second Reading: 1 Pet 2:4-9

Introduction to the reading: The first letter of Peter was written to a Christian community that felt alienated from their pagan neighbours. Today the author reminds them that they belong to a special group of people, the people of God.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Peter

Beloved: Come to the Lord, to that living stone, rejected by people but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,” and “A stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall”; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The Word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia! I am the way, and the truth, and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father, but by me. Alleluia!

Gospel: John 14:1-12

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

In those days, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 Homily

A stingy old man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness was determined to prove wrong the saying, “You can’t take it with you.” After much thought and consideration, the man finally figured out how to take at least some of his money with him when he died. He instructed his wife to go to the bank and withdraw enough paper currency to fill two pillowcases. He then directed her to take the bags of money to the attic and leave them directly above his bed. His plan was that when he passed away, he would reach out and grab the bags on his way to Heaven.Several weeks after the funeral, the deceased man’s wife, was cleaning the attic, and she came upon the two forgotten pillowcases stuffed with currency. “Oh, that darned old fool,” she exclaimed. “I knew he should have had me put the money in the basement so that he could take it on his way down to Hell.” J

The gospel takes us back to the Last Supper. This seems strange since we are in the Easter season and expect such a reading during Holy Week. But our own times are reflected in this reading. Jesus’ impending suffering and death will have unsettling effects on the disciples.He is preparing his followers, not only for “the hour” of his passion and death, but also for the subsequent days during which they will find themselves without his daily, visible presence for guidance and strength. These times will become very difficult for them as they are for us now. So he is reassuring that we will not be left to navigate through the storms on our own.

Jesus makes another “I Am” statement. Whenever he begins speaking to his disciples in this way, we know he is pronouncing another truth about himself that will form the foundation for faith in him. He says to those around the table, that he is “the way” to God. Instead of all the legalistic observances their religious leaders insisted upon in order for people to get right with God, believing in Jesus takes us into God’s grace-filled presence. Jesus’ “way” of loving is also the way for us to live.

He is “the truth” we can trust. He has taught us about God’s nature and we trust that what he said about God’s abundant mercy and forgiveness for us is true. If someone preaches another “truth” about a harsh, avenging and exacting God, we ought to reject that message. Instead, we trust that Jesus himself is the truth about God and by living Jesus’ truth will be how we live out God’s will for us.

We are not just obliged on our own to live according to Jesus’ life; not just asked to model our lives on his. Rather, he is “the life.” When he tells his disciples, “I am going to the Father,” he promises that he will come back to take them to himself. As we approach Pentecost we yearn again for the Spirit Jesus promised us that will take us to himself, unite us with him and empower us to live the life he lived. This Spirit is his life for us and quickens our own spirits, enlivening us so we can live Jesus’s life. Through the promised Spirit, his is “the life” that is now within us.

Jesus’ statement about being – “the way and the truth and the life” – does promise us all a homecoming. In fact, those who knew him experienced the “dwelling places” he had provided for them. They learned that these dwelling places weren’t just reserved for the next life. His life was a work that provided a homecoming for all. When he sat at table with people there were no place cards indicating rank and favourites. There was no list of places reserved for the most accomplished of the world. Jesus promised rest for the weary, comfort for the comfortless. All found a place of honour in his presence – all were invited to feel at home with him and his Father.

People felt at home with Jesus: wherever he went he offered a dwelling place to those he met. For example, unlike other religious leaders, Jesus talked to women in public, counted them among his followers. He put people ahead of religious customs, if they were sinners and considered unclean and banned from ritual, they would find a home in his company, for he was God’s presence to them. When Jesus turned to the criminal on the cross he promised him a dwelling place with him in paradise. Even those caught in sin, like the woman caught in adultery, found in Jesus a place of forgiveness and acceptance. In many ways he was saying to those who came to him, “Welcome home.”

Faith in Christ is a dwelling place that empowers us. We have security in him and, as we gather for Eucharist, our worship should feel like home to all those who come – the “regulars,” and those we rarely see. But we know some in our gathering don’t feel entirely welcome and equal. They don’t feel our gatherings places are their homes too: some single parents, divorced, gays, immigrants, migrants, are some examples. We pray that, while we find a home in Christ, we be strengthened to work for a church and a world that will be home to all. We wait for the Pentecost Spirit with anticipation of a renewal we cannot accomplish on our own.

Family Discussion

  • Jesus is the way. Jesus shows us how to live.
  • Jesus is the truth. Jesus shows us what to believe.
  • Jesus is the life. Jesus lives in us.
  • How does your family live to show other people that you are followers of Jesus?

Family Activity

When we go on a journey, we see many signs that help us on our way e.g. Stop;
No Standing; One Way; the speed limit for a particular road; traffic lights ahead.

Design some signs to help your family follow Jesus, signs to remind each other that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life!

A Blessing for Mothers on Mother’s Day

 Father,

we give you thanks for the many gifts you have given us;
the gift of life, the gift of those who love us.

We thank you today for the gift of our mothers.
We give thanks for our Mothers who have died
and for the unique way they have revealed for us your love.
We ask that you bless them and keep them in your care
until the time comes for us to join them in your Kingdom.

We ask your Blessing upon the Mothers
who are unable to be with us here today.
May they know how much we love and care for them.
We pray for birth mothers who have loved their children so much
they have shared the gift of their child with those who could better care for them and their needs, and give them a secure home.

And we pray for adoptive mothers, that they may always know
their special role of being a true mother,
a revelation of God’s love for their children.

We ask your blessing upon Mothers who have lost children through stillbirth, crib death, accident and tragedy, war and violence
that they may have your continuing strength and courage.

We ask your blessing too, upon those who would very much like to be mothers but who are having trouble having a child.
We ask your Blessing upon the Mothers standing before us here .

Give them the strength to live the faithful and loving lives you call them to live.
Protect and guide them. Keep them in your care.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:          God our Father invites us to live, as a family, at home in the Church as we prepare to live for ever with God in heaven. Let us pray with confidence for all we need.

Reader:         We pray for the Church: that we may provide a welcome for all those who are wanting to come home to God.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all mothers and those who have shown us a mother’s love: (pause) that God will watch over them, bless them with every good gift, and fill their hearts with peace.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for those struggling to understand Christ: (pause) that the Spirit will lead them to recognize the works of God in their lives and the world around them as a sign of God’s love and presence.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for South Africa during this time of lockdown: (pause) that our leaders may understand the suffering of ordinary people and that God will give them insight and courage as they develop plans to both preserve the health and safety of society and to reopen the economy

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who are ill, particularly those with Covid-19: (pause)  that God will restore them to health and guide researchers in finding effective treatments and developing a vaccine.

LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time:

LORD HEAR US

We pray for all who have died this week, especially those with the Covid-19 virus.
Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.

All:                  And let perpetual light shine on them.

May they rest in peace. Amen.

Leader:          Let us pray our prayer for healing:

All pray:         Gracious God,
We give thanks anew for your providence and presence.
We prayerfully seek your grace, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic here and across the world.
We pray for those in need of healing.
We pray for your peace with those who are anxious or grieving.
We pray you will continue to strengthen and sustain all those who are serving in response.
We pray for your Holy Spirit’s discernment amidst the many choices and decisions facing our national, community and medical leaders.
We pray for those not working, for all who are struggling to find their next meal.
We pray we each might see quickly what more we can do to help those who are vulnerable.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, the Lord risen from the dead,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Amen.

Holy Mary, health of the sick, pray for us.
St Joseph, guardian of us all, pray for us.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.
By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

 

My Jesus,
I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment,
feed my soul at least spiritually.
I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you.
Amen.

 

CONCLUDING RITE

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

All say:           Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Leader:          Lord,
remain close to the people you have enriched with these heavenly mysteries,
and grant that we may pass from our former ways to new life in the risen Christ.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

Blessing 

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

All:                  Amen.

Instrumental music may be played or a hymn may be sung.