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Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C, April 28, 2013
Lectionary index # 54

Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.

The presider may speak these before the first and second readings, and before rising for the gospel acclamation. Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.

Fifth Sunday of Easter, year C, April 28, 2013
Before the first reading:

One of the purposes of the Acts of the Apostles was to introduce Gentile converts to the Jewish roots of their new religion, and to explain how the religion broke out of the historical exclusiveness of Judaism. This reading describes some of the steps along that path.
Between psalm and second reading:

The Book of Revelation sought to encourage persecuted Christians. Here it takes as a symbol the ancient, city Jerusalem, long a token of God's favor to the Jews. The image of a new Jerusalem speaks of God's favor extended and made permanent.
Before the gospel acclamation:

John, chapter 13, begins Jesus' long Passover supper discourse. Here he speaks of his coming passion as his glorification. In the same breath he reminds his disciples to love one another.

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First reading, Acts 14:21-27 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Setting: Acts, as these Notes say often, was written to introduce Gentile converts to their new religion's Jewish roots. It explains how divine providence used human passions to let the religion break out of its early exclusiveness and embrace the world. The frenetic travels of the apostles, the persecutions, the organizational changes, are all part of this story.

For the record, "that city" in the first sentence (verse 21) is Derbe (see verse 20).

Your Proclamation: In preparing to proclaim this passage, decide early how you'll pronounce the place names, and practice. The "correctness" of your pronunciation matters less than the smoothness of it. The idea is to give the congregation the idea that the apostles traveled widely and briskly, because they were eager to spread the word of God.

The appointment of "elders" is interesting. The New American Bible, 1971 edition, points out that Paul is careful to appoint officers only after a local church community has proven faithful through hardship. This suggests that the lector should give special emphasis to Paul and Barnabas's statement, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships ..."

Second Reading, Revelation 21:1-5a [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Setting: Like the exhortations of Paul and Barnabas, the book of Revelation was written to bolster the faith of persecuted early Christians. Today's passage begins the final section of the book.

The image of a new Jerusalem: The ancient city Jerusalem had long been for the Jews a token of God's presence with them. God had aided them in capturing and holding it, in making it their capital, in building the Temple there, and in returning to it after their exile in Babylon. Within the holiest chamber of the Jerusalem Temple, they kept the stone tablets of the Law given to Moses in an enthroned chest known as the ark of the Covenant. God was thought to dwell in a particular way in the space above the ark. This all gives richness to the image of a new Jerusalem. This is, in the end, a metaphor for the Church, which is always called to reveal to the human race God's presence among us.

Your proclamation: The central religious question any person or group can ask is, "Is God with us or not?" That amounts to asking "Are we ultimately on our own here, or do we have a hidden partner who both helps us and holds us accountable for our response to that help?" The answer of the book of Revelation is clear, and the lector should announce it resoundingly in this reading: "Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race."

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Several other commentaries on these passages. All are thoughtful, all quite readable, from the scholarly to the popular.
Links may be incomplete more than a few weeks before the "due date."
Father Roger Karban of Belleville, Illinois, USA, writes a newspaper column about every Sunday's readings. Here are his essays for today's passages, from: courtesy of The Evangelist, official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, or of The Belleville Messenger, of the Diocese of Belleville.

Read all of Father Karban's recent columns here, at the site of FOSIL, the Faithful of Southern Illinois.

A refection on today's gospel by Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.)by Frank Cleary, S.J., from the website of the Saint Louis Review

Retired Lutheran pastor and college teacher Dan Nelson prepares detailed notes for a study group.
Click here for his notes on Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35 (same second reading and gospel passages as in the Catholic lectionary today).
The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes Saint Louis University's excellent Sunday liturgy-preparation site. Essays by six highly qualified scripture scholars, spiritual writers, historians, all on this Sunday's readings.

(Caveat lector. As of April 6, 2010, Lector's Notes' author is speculating about the exact URL of SLU's offering, since it's not yet posted. If you get a 404 Not Found, try here).

The Lectionary selections in the frame at the left, if any, are there for your convenience. The publishers of the page in that frame have no connection, except for membership in the one Body of Christ, with the publisher of this page. Likewise the publishers of the pages on the links above.
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Last modified: February 11, 2013