HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – cycle A

HOMILY FOR THE FIFTY SUNDAY OF EASTER

CYCLE A

Bishop Rene Henry Gracida

First Readig

A READING FROM THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

As the number of disciples continued to grow,

the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews

because their widows

were being neglected in the daily distribution.

So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said,

“It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.

Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men,

filled with the Spirit and wisdom,

whom we shall appoint to this task,

whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer

and to the ministry of the word.”

The proposal was acceptable to the whole community,

so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit,

also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas,

and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

They presented these men to the apostles

who prayed and laid hands on them.

The word of God continued to spread,

and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly;

even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

THE RESPONSORIAL PSALM

(Response) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Exult, you just, in the LORD;

praise from the upright is fitting.

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;

with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.

R/ Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Upright is the word of the LORD,

and all his works are trustworthy.

He loves justice and right;

of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.

R/ Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,

upon those who hope for his kindness,

To deliver them from death

and preserve them in spite of famine.

R/ Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Reading 2

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Peter:

Beloved:

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings

but chosen and precious in the sight of God,

and, like living stones,

let yourselves be built into a spiritual house

to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices

acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

For it says in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion,

a cornerstone, chosen and precious,

and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.

Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith:

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone, and

A stone that will make people stumble,

and a rock that will make them fall.

They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny.

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people of his own,

so that you may announce the praises” of him

who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Gospel

JN 14:1-12

A reading from the Holy Gospel

according to Saint John

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.

You have faith in God; have faith also in me.

In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.

If there were not,

would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back again and take you to myself,

so that where I am you also may be.

Where I am going you know the way.”

Thomas said to him,

“Master, 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 except through me.

If you know me, then you will also know my Father.

From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him,

“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time

and you still do not know me, Philip?

Whoever 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 is in me?

The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.

The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,

or else, believe because of the works themselves.

Amen, amen, I say to you,

whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,

and will do greater ones than these,

because I am going to the Father.

++++++++++

COLLECT PRAYER

Almighty ever-living God, 

you constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us, 

that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism may, 

under your protective care, 

bear much fruit and 

come to the joys of life eternal. 

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 

one God, 

for ever 

+++++++++

HOMILY

According to the Pew Foundation’s Research Center Americans are going to church on Sundays less often year by year in the past few decades.

“The percentage of Americans who say they “seldom” or “never” attend religious services (aside from weddings and funerals) has risen modestly in the past decade. Roughly three-in-ten U.S. adults (29%) now say they seldom or never attend worship services, up from 25% in 2003, according to aggregated data from Pew Research Center surveys. The share of people who say they attend services at least once a week has remained relatively steady; 37% say they attend at least weekly today, compared with 39% a decade ago.

Of course, how often people say they usually attend services is not necessarily the same as how often they actually do attend. For example, time diary studies, in which respondents report on concrete activities over a limited span of time, often show lower rates of church attendance than data from surveys, which perhaps better reflect how people see themselves (rather than how they behave).”

There are probably as many reasons for the decline as there are people.

There has been much speculation by social scientists and others as to the causes for the steadily declining numbers.

I have my own theory as to why

Americans have stopped going to Church,  an indicator of abandonment of religious practice and belief.

I believe that many Americans are suffering from the

GPS SYNDROME.

GPS stands for Global Positioning System.

The Global Positioning System (GPS), is a space-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force.

It is a global navigation satellite system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.[3]

The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.

Nowadays anyone can afford to own a GPS receiver, either mounted in their car or handheld; they are relatively inexpensive.

For years I would go hunting with a friend and he would drive the truck and I would give directions.  God gave me the ability to read a map and memorize the route in less than a minute.

Then one day he told me he did not need my help in navigating to the place where we would hunt and he pointed to the GPS device mounted on the dashboard of his truck.

What does all this have to do with the phenomenon declining church attendance and religious practice?

Simply this, as people have come to depend more and more on science, all branches of science, to guide them through life they no longer believe that Jesus Christ needs to show them the way.

Science provides the answer to whatever life problem at the moment challenges us.

Is it procreation? Science give us a variety of ways to control procreation.

Is it mental health?  Science gives us an infinite variety of substances, legal and illegal, to help us cope with the pressures and illnesses associated with mental health.

Technology, with the aid of the computer and algorithms can seemingly solve any of life’s problems.

If science and technology can show us the way, then why is the suicide rate climbing.

Why are more and more patients opting for euthanasia, assisted or otherwise.  Why is there a seemingly unending progression of drug use.

When I was a boy all I ever heard of was pot and alcohol.  A psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, or psychotropic is any chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness or behavior.

Today there are literally thousands of such substances available to anyone and everyone.

We do not need statistics to help us understand that modern man has made great scientific and technological progress, but has lost his way.

Thomas asked Jesus:

“How can we know the way?”

Jesus replied:

“I am the way and the truth and the life.”

You cannot know the way that Jesus is referring to if you do not know Jesus,

personally, intimately, as a lover.

On the wall of my chapel you see an icon.

It was painted by a Benedictine nun in a convent near the home of Zachery and Elizabeth.

I was visiting the convent and I saw the unfnished icon and I said “Sister I want to buy that icon when you finish it.”  I bought it and you see it hanging on my wall.

It shows the Apostle John resting his head on the chest of Jesus at the last supper.

The text on the icon: “Je te fiancerai a moi dans la tendresse” is taken from Hosea 2:19  “I will espouse you for ever; I will espouse you in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  I will espouse you in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.”

Paul is my patron; I choose him for my Confirmation.  I choose to be ordained a bishop on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul.  He is my model for ministry.

But John is my model for my deepest personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

As Jesus hung dying on the cross all the disciples deserted him, except John.

Jesus is the WAY and John is my model for loving my Lord, Jesus Christ.

I have no need of a ‘GPS’ in my spiritual life,

nor should you.

O God,

Eternal Father, 

your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ,

has shown us the way to return to you.

In this relativistic, materialistic world

we are offered many detours that would take us off of the way your Son 

has shown us.

Strengthen our faith and love for you that we may remain faithful in following the way 

of Jesus Christ,

and so find our way to eternal life with you and your Son in the Holy Spirit.

This we ask through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God,

forever and ever.

Amen!

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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