Fifth Sunday of Easter
When the Sanhedrin heard that Stephen was speaking Blasphemy, he was to be stoned to death. The passages from Acts shows the risks and suffering faced by the first Christians as they lived out their faith. When he was brought before the council in Jerusalem Stephen gave a fiery speech and accused the people of Jerusalem of consistently resisting the Holy Spirit, persecuting God’s prophets, disobeying the law, and murdering Jesus. The crowds were angry and dragged him outside the city, to stone him to death. Stephen’s vision of heaven as he died was an affirmation, of victory over death promised by the Resurrection of Jesus and also proclaimed in the Psalm for today. “I take my refuge in the Lord – deliver me in your righteousness. You are my rescue, lead me, guide me. I commit my spirit – deliver me my faithful God.”
Peter calls us to “Come to him a living stone, rejected by humans but chosen by God, and precious to God – you, like living stones, are being built, into a spiritual house.” (Greek for stone may mean a common stone but frequently is a specially cut stone suitable for a building: The Greek word oikos translate as “house,” but also as a household. Our Christian life is a pattern of study, prayer, and worship. This is the footprints of those who follow Jesus. We must live our lives of faith with the life of the community – seeking the “pure spiritual milk”, of God’s word in study and offering praise and Thanksgiving. We are the living stones, not people set in stone.
The gospel today is Jesus’s farewell address to his disciples. It is the evening of the Last Supper. Jesus says to the disciples. “ I am with you only a little longer” , and He reveals that where he is going the disciples can not follow, but he assures them. Do not let your hearts be troubled”. Jesus never wanted his disciples, then and now, to have a life without trouble. But Jesus promised that we could have an untroubled heart even in a troubled life. Basically, we are being asked to “Set our Hearts” at ease and unclench our heart and let go of our fears. Put our trust in God; for the last several weeks we have been staying at home and distancing ourselves from our friends, and our church community worried about the future and when we will see everyone again. For us today this is an invitation to put our trust in God and to find peace in Jesus. It is not hiding our fears, but to be aware of our fears and our anxieties and to put our trust in the living God.
Today is Mother’s Day and I would like to share this reflection from Erma Bombeck: describing the complex task God had in creating mothers. Afterall, He had to create a creature who would “run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that disappears when she stands up; a kiss that can cure anything form a broken let to a disappointed love affair; six pair of hands and three pairs of eyes.” It went something like this: An angel pleaded with God not to work so hard. “Lord” said the angel gently. “Come to bed.” “I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to Myself.” The angel circled the model of a mother slowly and said with a sigh, “It is too soft.” “But tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You can’t imagine what this mother can do or endure.” Finally bending over and running her finger across the cheek. The angel pronounced: “There’s a leak. I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model.” “It is not a leak.” Said the Lord, “It is a tear.” “What is it for?” asked the angel. The Lord answered , “It is for joy, sadness, loneliness, pain, disappointment and pride.” “You are a Genius, “the angel replied. The Lord looked somber, “I didn’t put it there.”