May 5, 2013 –– Sixth Sunday of Easter
The readings for this Sixth Sunday of Easter provide us with both a history lesson about the Church virtually 20 years after Jesus’ crucifixion, and a deeper understanding of how God interacts with the Church, with its leadership, and with each of us on a daily basis.
From a historical perspective, we need to know and understand that all of the were originally written in a form of Greek called Koine (or “common”) Greek. It made sense to write in that particular language and form of Greek because it was the most widely spoken language of the day. Writing in common Greek meant the message could be spread more quickly and effectively.
One of the most important aspects of our sense of stewardship in relation to the Church is having a firm understanding of what and who we are. That means we need to be able to grasp the significance, especially historical importance, of the intricate facets of our faith and beliefs.
The first reading from Acts makes reference to the Council of Jerusalem (also known as the Apostolic Council), held around the year 50. The major reason for this gathering was to define how the Gentiles (which includes almost all of us) were expected to live in relation to the old Laws. The whole point of this reading is to point out those four representatives — Paul, Barnabas, Judas Barsabbas, and Silas — were to go to Antioch with a letter pointing out that the old laws did not apply to the Gentiles.
Revelations 21, the second reading, provides another insight into what Heaven is like. Sometimes we get a little too literal as we read the Book of Revelations. What is described is a city beyond our imaginations. Many scholars feel the walls illustrated are merely an implication of what a secure and safe place Heaven is — safe from the evils, the pains, the sadness, and the burdens of the world we know.
The key for us, however, is found in the Gospel of John. What we find there hearkens back to the fact that John wrote in common Greek. In his original text, St. John wrote of the paraklêtos. That word can be translated in many ways; we translate it as “advocate,” but other translations can be “counselor, comforter, helper.” Then John identifies this “advocate” as the Holy Spirit. The other message of this Gospel passage is that we must always trust in God. This is what makes us good stewards — the understanding that by trusting in God we accept the fact that the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, is always with us, always assisting us with what we say, what we do, and what we accomplish. It reminds us of another important admonition for the good Catholic, the good steward — “With God all things are possible.”