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Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B, April 26, 2015
Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.
Who should announce these before the first and second readings, and before the gospel acclamation? They're not Scripture, nor homiletic, so they shouldn't be delivered from the ambo. They're a modest teaching. So let the presider say them from the chair. Let the lector turn toward the presider and listen.
Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.
|Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B, April 26, 2015|
Before the first reading:
The original audience of the book of Acts were Greek converts to Christ. They were curious about how a religion that had started among Jews had come to embrace them. Saint Luke tells how Peter's strong preaching of Jesus made Jewish leaders draw the line.
After the psalm, before the second reading:
For a community torn apart by the exaggerated claims of some of its dissident members, John writes a soothing solution. Just as Jesus went unrecognized by many, so the true believers are misunderstood. And contrary to the claims of some to have special knowledge of the ways of God, there are things yet to be revealed to anyone.
Before the gospel acclamation:
For the same community, John gives a picture of Jesus' tender care for his followers, and a clear statement that authority belongs to him because he obeys his Father and is self-sacrificing for his flock.
|Saint Luke wrote for an audience quite different from those of Mark and Matthew, different, too, from the Thessalonians and many other recipients of Paul's letters. Luke's readers lived a generation or more later than the apostles, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., and outside the Holy Land. They had never been Jews. They were cosmopolitan, middle-class and Gentile, living in a skeptical society, yet attracted to a religion with long historic Jewish roots. But that new religion only came to its fulfillment by reaching out to all humankind. To tell that story, to ground his audience in their adopted religious heritage, and to keep them focused on the religion's mission, Luke needed to tell the story of Jesus anew in this gospel, and needed a second book, the Acts of the Apostles.|
The original readers of Acts (see above) would have found here:
|In the verses prior to today's reading, Peter has invoked the name of Jesus to cure a cripple, then preached to the amazed onlookers about Jesus, been arrested for so preaching, and brought before the authorities to explain himself.|
But be Luke, too, the author, hinting to your original readers why Jesus was rejected by those to whom he first came: "then you and all people should know ... He is the stone rejected by you, the builders" (a citation of Psalm 118:22). For Jesus is still rejected today, and not just by Jews. Today's Christians should no more take that for granted than the first Christians could. It demands explaining, and even more it demands a remedy (but that's for your assembly's homilist to take on).
1 John 3:1-2
See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
|That the world "did not know him" refers to points 5 & 6 above. That this prevents the world from recognizing us, too, may be an instance of something found throughout John's writings, the identification of Christ and the Christian community.|
|Beloved, we are God's children now; |
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
|That something important "has not yet been revealed" is a response to those who claim to have received special knowledge about the things of God.|
Proclaiming It: Both verses emphasize that we are God's children, so you should, too. Slow down, then, at "we may be called" [briefest pause] "children of God." [Longer pause] Continue, "Beloved, we are God's children now ..."
In the next clause, emphasize shall because it contrasts what we know with what we don't know. The next sentence is intriguing, is it not? What does it mean to "be like him" and to "see him as he is"? (If you know, you should be writing and I should be reading, but then you'd be a Gnostic and I'd have to disregard your teaching.) Anyway, recite this verse with with a tone that acknowledges the alluring mystery of it.
|Several other commentaries on these passages. All are thoughtful, all quite readable, from the scholarly to the popular.
Links may be incomplete more than a few weeks before the "due date."
Archived weekly column of the late Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.) From the site of the Saint Louis Review
Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson's notes for a study group
Dan covers 1 John 3:16-24 as second reading today. See Dan's page of Easter 3 for a discussion of our second reading of today.
|Father Roger Karban of Belleville, Illinois, USA, writes a newspaper column about every Sunday's readings. Here are his essays for today's passages, from: Read all of Father Karban's recent columns here, at the site of FOSIL, the Faithful of Southern Illinois.|
|The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes||Saint Louis University's excellent Sunday liturgy site. (Caveat lector. As of February 27, 2015, Lector's Notes' author is speculating about the exact URL of SLU's offering, since it's not yet posted. If you get a 404 Not Found, try here).|
Last modified: February 27, 2014