Fifth Sunday of Easter [a]

Engaging Faith | Mon, May 16, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.

Fifth Sunday of Easter [a]
May 22, 2011

Acts 6:1-7
1 Peter 2:4-9
John 14:1-12

May 21: Diversity Day
May 22:  International Day for Biological Diversity
May 24: World Day of Prayer for the Church in China


Christians must be conscious of their specific and proper role in the political community; they should be a shining example by their sense of responsibility and their dedication to the common good; they should show in practice how authority can be reconciled with freedom, personal initiative with solidarity and the needs of the social framework as a whole, and the advantages of unity with the benefits of diversity.
      Vatican II, The Church in the Modern World   (#75)

Every citizen also has the responsibility to work to secure justice and human rights through an organized social response.
      US Bishops, Economic Justice for All (#120)
It is in keeping with their dignity as persons that human beings should take an active part in government.
     Pope John XXIII, Peace on Earth (#73)

In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.
       Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter of 14 May 1971, (#23)

Let everyone examine themselves, to see what they have done up to now, and what they ought to do. It is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action.
  Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter of 14 May 1971, (#48)

Thoughts for your consideration

The gospel of Jesus is not simply a “personal interior message or experience” which changes the way we feel.  Genuine belief leads to works.  Spirituality is connected to action. As Jesus says in today’s gospel, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.”

The work of the gospel is reflected in the concern of the early church for the poor. In today’s example from Acts, it is reflected in a concern for the widows in the community.  The work of the gospel is about service and especially service to those who are most in need.  It is a responsibility of the whole community – not just a responsibility for the apostles. Deacons are appointed. The whole community is involved in this very local need. [In some way this story reflects the principle of subsidiarity which is one of the key principles of Catholic Social Teaching.]  The apostles also seek to create a structure for responding to the needs for the long term.  [This too is important in Catholic Social Teaching, for we desire to offer more than charity to respond to some immediate need but to create structures of justice that empower all people.]

In the gospel Jesus reassures his disciples that he wants to see them taken care of.  He speaks of a house with many dwelling places.  We may think of this image as some vision of heaven where everyone will have a fine mansion.  We might also think of the vision of Jesus as speaking to our world here and now.  Might not Jesus envision a world where all God’s people have decent, safe, and affordable housing here today? Might not Jesus envision a world where refugees find a safe home and those who come out of prison are welcomed back to the community? Might not Jesus envision a world in which all men and women enjoy a sense of belonging and community wherever they live?  Is this not what the early community is trying to create as they appoint deacons to make sure that everyone is included in the resources of the whole?  Is this not what we all want to be about?  Are we not all called to focus on the “common good?”

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

How does your local community delegate and share responsibility for those in need?  Does it fall on the efforts of a few or is it more the responsibility of the whole community?  Is there a concern for creating a structure that promotes justice?

Actions - Links

Environmental Justice
“Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.”  Consider taking political action online at

“Crazy Facts”

“Since 1980, when Reagan won the presidency promising prosperity through tax cuts, the average income of the vast majority—the bottom 90 percent of Americans—has increased a meager $303, or 1 percent. Put another way, for each dollar people in the vast majority made in 1980, in 2008 their income was up to $1.01.  Those at the top did better. The top 1 percent’s average income more than doubled to $1.1 million, according to an analysis of tax data by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. The really rich, the top one-tenth of 1 percent, each enjoyed almost $4 in 2008 for each dollar in 1980.  The top 300,000 Americans now enjoy almost as much income as the bottom 150 million, the data show.”

Prayers of Intercession

Response: May God lead us on the road to justice in the world.
For the poor of our world, especially those who are struggling because of rising food prices, we pray….
For those who are suffering because of recent natural disasters, like the floods along the Mississippi, the tornados in the south, and the earthquake in Japan, we pray….
For those who are suffering because of the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, we pray….
For the billions of people around our world who still struggle to live on less than two dollars a day, we pray….
For those in our world who live in places where war is waging, we pray….
For our planet which continues to suffer from our misuse and abuse, we pray….

Find prayer resources focusing on environment justice at:

St. Francis's Canticle of the Sun

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.  Amen.

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