This coming Sunday is the 5th Sunday in Easter (Year B) and the reading is from the Gospel of John 15:1-8. You can read a complete commentary here. Our gospel (vv.1-8) is the first portion of the remarkable “Vine and Branches” metaphor (John 15:1-17) from the Farewell Discourse following the Last Supper (John 14-16). Next Sunday we will hear vv.9-17. The Farewell Discourse is the centerpiece of the three sections that comprise the events of the Last Supper: Continue reading
Isaiah, one of the greatest of the prophets, appeared at a critical moment in Israel’s history. To say that his ministry was part of one of the most complicated periods, is an understatement. During his time, the promised land had already split asunder. The people were no longer ruled under Jerusalem and the throne of David. Most of the tribes of Jacob formed the Northern Kingdom (referred to as Israel in this period) with the remaining tribes still loyal to Jerusalem and the throne of David – referred to as Judah.
Beyond the borders was the ever-looming threat of the Assyrian Empire whose capita city was Nineveh. It was in the area of modern-day Mosul in Northern Iraq. Compared to Israel, it is to the northeast at some distance.
Throughout the Easter Season, our first reading is often from The Acts of the Apostles. One of yesterday’s posts was on the first 12 chapters of the book. “Now… for the rest of story.” (thank you Paul Harvey
I thought it good to recommend to you to take a moment to watch The Bible Project’s video on the last half of the Acts of the Apostles – Chapters 12-38.
As always, I encourage you to support the not-for-profit work of The Bible Project.
This coming Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter, is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” because of the gospel that is proclaimed:
11 I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. 13 This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”
Throughout the Easter Season, our first reading if from The Acts of the Apostles. This is the second volume of Luke’s two-volume work, continues Luke’s presentation of biblical history, describing how the salvation promised to Israel in the Old Testament and accomplished by Jesus has now under the guidance of the holy Spirit been extended to the Gentiles. This was accomplished through the divinely chosen representatives whom Jesus prepared during his historical ministry and commissioned after his resurrection as witnesses to all that he taught. Luke’s preoccupation with the Christian community as the Spirit-guided bearer of the word of salvation rules out of his book detailed histories of the activity of most of the preachers.
The gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Easter for this year is filled with so much. It contains homily material for a month of Sundays. Among it all is this simple verse: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 21:21) At a simple level it is the Johannine post-Resurrection commissioning, but it is the how that points to more: “As the Father sent me…” It wasn’t the simple commissioning in Matthew:
Adam is created as God’s first-born son. He’s also conceived as a priest. In previous posts, we saw how the world was fashioned as a Temple and the Garden of Eden was depicted as the sanctuary of the Temple – the holy place where God dwells. If you have a temple, you need a priest to guard it and keep it and to offer sacrifices. And that’s the task that God gives to Adam. It’s a “priestly” task. But you need to know a little Hebrew to understand it.
35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41 While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them. 44 He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Continue reading
In my experience when you ask folks about the Kings of Israel and Judah, you are likely to get an “Oh, yeah… like King David and King Solomon.” Some might know more of the names of kings, such as Saul or Hezekiah, but no one will be able to name them all (nor can I). But stop a moment and think about the whole ideas of Kings. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua -all great names in the history of the people of Israel – but none of them were kings. There were prophets and judges, heroes and heroines, but from where came the kings?