Bulletin: May 19, 2019
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Although we are five full weeks into the celebration of Easter, today’s readings focus on newness. Our Easter food leftovers may be long gone, but the readings insist on every moment’s freshness in the risen Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles depicts Paul and Barnabas reflecting on all the innovative work that God has done with them. They have traveled hundreds of miles, introducing faith in Jesus Christ to all who listen, even Gentiles. For the dutiful Jewish scholar Paul, preaching to Gentiles is a completely unique development. Jesus calls Paul, and us, not to be afraid of new challenges: as John the Evangelist reports in Revelation, Jesus promises to “make all things new.” In the Gospel reading, Jesus even gives us a new commandment. The Hebrew Scriptures overflow with commandments, but Jesus knows we need one more, perfect mission: “love one another.”
AN OCEAN NAMED RALPH
Human nature confronts newness in a variety of ways. While some bold individuals avoid routine and actively seek out unusual experiences, a great many of us, fearing the unfamiliar, resist change. Jesus knows perfectly our human nature, and understands the common reluctance to mess with routine. Nonetheless he proclaims, “Behold, I make all things new.” During the Last Supper, he even goes so far as to pronounce a new commandment: “love one another.” To the observant Jews who are Jesus’ companions, receiving a new commandment might feel as shocking as hearing about a second moon orbiting the Earth, or a fifth ocean named Ralph.