Mer, 06 Mag 20 Lectio Divina - Anno A
Readings: Acts 6: 1-7; 1 Peter 2: 4-9; John 14: 1-12
Today’s readings focus on ministry. The First Reading gives the account of the apostles choosing individuals to help them in serving the people. In the Second Reading, St. Peter proclaims that all who believe have a share in the priesthood of Jesus. The Gospel, which takes place during the Last Supper, is Jesus’ words to His disciples, reassuring them that they share in His life and ministry.
The Apostle Thomas and Philip will always be remembered for their simplicity in seeking the truth. The questions they put before Jesus may look silly but Jesus uses them to bring clarity about himself and father. Though Jesus has explained at length about his return to his Father, Thomas doesn’t seem to understand it. Hence, he wants to know where Jesus is intending to go and the way he would take to reach it. But comes the replay from Jesus that he himself is the Way Truth and the Life. Philip also doesn’t understand Jesus’ words about the father and so asks Jesus to show him the father. Philip is told that he should see the Father in Jesus Himself.
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear about the call of the first deacon. This episode gives a different picture of the reality of Christian life, for the peace and harmony described in the three major summaries have been distributed. Externally they face persecution from religious authorities; internally deception and division enter into the ranks of the community. The apostles gear up to solve the internal division. There is a complaint from the Hellenists against the Jews that their widows are being neglected in the daily distribution of food. To handle this problem, the twelve do not hesitate to restructure the early community, proposing to set up seven persons who would “wait on the tables” and handle the dole. These seven men were called to service – tending to the physical needs of the people, while the apostles tended to the proclamation of the Word and prayer. Even though the deacons were being called to physical service, they had to be individuals who were “reputable, filled with the Spirit and wisdom.” This meant that they had to be spiritual persons – persons of the Spirit.
In the second reading, St. Peter speaks to all the believers and reminds them and us that they and also we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people GOD has set apart.” He was not referring just to the leaders of the early church but to all who had been united with Jesus through Baptism.
In this passage, Peter visualizes believers as a building that is being built by God himself. The foundation of God’s building is Jesus himself. If a person wants to be a part of God’s building he/she has to place his/her life upon the foundation stone, which is Christ himself. By itself, a stone is of little use but joined with others it becomes part of a building, a living stone has the purpose of being a part of the whole. The cornerstone is supportive. All other stones are placed upon it and held by it. It is the pre-eminent stone in a position of power. So it is Christ; he is the support and power, the foundation of God’s new movement. No one can be part of God’s building unless he/she places himself/herself upon the foundation stone laid by God.
In the Gospel, Jesus promises that He is going away to prepare a place for His followers. The disciples do not want Jesus to leave. They are not sure how to follow Him when He is gone. He reassures them that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that they will carry on His service/ministry to other people.
The long speech by Jesus to his disciple culminates in Jesus telling them that his time of departure back to the Father in imminent. This disturbs and troubles the disciples. Therefore, Jesus feels the need to console his disciples, console his disciples, and reassure them that he is going to his heavenly home to prepare a place for them in Father’s house and promises them that he will return to them and take them home. Then Thomas comes with a question about knowing the way, which elicits from Jesus a response that has, becomes famous ever since. Jesus himself is the Way the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the Way because he is also the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the Way to God: the disciples need to walk along with it and need to have no fear of stumbling. He is the Truth: they need to hold on to him and rely on him without fear of being failed by him. He is the Life: they need to live it, live in him, and need to have no fear of death. This assurance is worthy of acceptance since Jesus and the Father are one, and since all he says and does in their midst are the words and works of God.
Jesus expands on what He means by explaining that His own words and works are not, in fact, done on His own. The Father and the Son are one. They are one to such perfection that their words and works are one. This is a profound point, but it’s not Jesus’ final point—or even His strongest point—in today’s Gospel passage.
Our readings today speak about ministry in a different, and more realistic, and truth-filled, way. It reminds us that all believers in Jesus are members of the royal priesthood. Actually, there is only one priest – Jesus the Christ. All others share in the priesthood of Jesus. And the role of Jesus the priest is to lead others to His Abba – for He is the Way to the Abba – to sanctify those on the journey so that they will be able to enjoy the dwelling places that Jesus has prepared for them in His Abba’s House. The rest of the community of faith is called to share in Jesus’ ministry of leading others to the Abba’s House. It is the privilege and duty of all believers to share in this primary function of Jesus.
The key thing for me is that there is only one priest – Jesus Christ. Everyone else shares in the priesthood of the Lord Jesus. We do it in different ways; some ways have been “organized” so that they can devote themselves to full-time ministry or service. Yet, that does not diminish the sharing in Jesus’ priesthood that the rest of us have.
Today we especially pray for Pope Francis who has ascended the chair of St. Peter to be the Vicar of Christ. May we all be faithful to serving one another and helping them know the Way, the Truth, and the Life.