Fifth Sunday of Easter by Dcn. Francis

Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 14, 2017

 

Jesus prepares his followers for his death and resurrection but also for his ultimate exaltation. The entire Easter season is really a celebration of this exaltation.

The Exaltation of Jesus

Jesus died, rose, and is exalted at the right hand of God in glory. This is the heart of the gospel message. It has happened; it is fact. Only in the gradual unfolding of the Liturgical Year do we commemorate separately each stage in this drama as if the reality were being revealed step by step before our eyes. These fifty days of Easter provide us with an opportunity to probe the depths of this mystery and to savor the insights we discover. It is a time to celebrate the exaltation of Jesus as we await the time of his final glorification.

The exaltation of Jesus should cause us to wonder by what standards God chooses to glorify. This Sunday he speaks of going to the God that he calls Father. However, it is through his death that he goes to God. In John’s Gospel Jesus is exalted as he is raised up in crucifixion. The author of the epistle declared him “chosen and precious in the sight of God,” but it is as the stone that was rejected that he is so honored. Although some claim Jesus is exalted as reward for having suffered such disgrace, these readings suggest he is exalted by God despite the fact that he was rejected. This should encourage us who might be tempted to fall victim to the standards of acceptability espoused by this world.

Life in Community

If we ever wonder how the exaltation of Jesus will affect us, we have Jesus’ own words of explanation. He promises to go ahead of us and make arrangements for us to share in his exaltation in the house of the one he calls Father. All we need do is follow him. The epistle reading characterizes him as the cornerstone that holds the house together. The first reading shows us how the reconciliation of tensions within the community can prevent the house from being divided. Taken together, these readings suggest that the exaltation of Jesus is most dramatically manifested in the character of the community of those called by his name. It is revealed in the way Christians settle their differences so that all parties are treated fairly. Jesus is the cornerstone upon which this community is built, and the community radiates his influence in its life.

Proclaim His Praises

Not only do Christians participate in the exaltation of Jesus by living as community of reconciliation, they also do it by spreading the good news to others. The reading from Acts shows how the witness of their lives and their preaching of the word of God increased their number. The gospel may be using hyperbole, but in it Jesus claims that his followers will accomplish deeds even greater than those he himself performed. This promise remains a challenge for the followers of Jesus in every age. What is the challenge for Christians today in a world broken to pieces by war, a world that values possessions more that people, a world that finds it difficult to admit its limitations?  What in the gospel message for today is good news? And how can today’s Christians proclaim it?

 

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