Modern Liturgy / Volume 20 Number 1 (February 1993):24-25
The Easter readings of lectionary cycle A were chosen for the possibilities they offer those who wish to reflect on the meaning of Easter and baptism. They are so appropriate for the mystagogical catechesis of the newly baptized that they may be chosen for any year of the three-year cycle.
Baptism gives meaning to the Christian life and opens the door to the other sacraments. Let all Christians spend this season in happy mediation on the reign of God alive within the church, within each one of us!
Second Sunday of Easter (April 18, 1993)
Today is Easter redux. If you're looking for a simple way to explain today, it's Easter Day again. (Actually the whole week we've just completed is Easter every day: Just look at the Gospels for Monday through Saturday.) Today's Gospel (John 20:19-31) records Jesus' apparition to the apostles on the very day of resurrection, the first reading (Acts 2:42-47) records the growth of the early church, and the second reading (1 Peter 1:3-9) presents an early baptismal hymn.
If you're catechizing groups this week, I suggest you include a reading of one of these texts. The Gospel will give background for several sacraments: reconciliation, priesthood, and initiation. The first reading may spark a discussion comparing the apostolic church community with your church. The second reading could begin a comparison of ancient and modern Christian hymns.
Third Sunday of Easter (April 25, 1993)
The Eucharist comes to the forefront in today's liturgy. The Gospel gives the incomparable story of the journey to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), where the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Today's first reading (Acts 2:14, 22-28) provides us with Peter's first sermon on Pentecost day. You'll notice that the Easter lectionary is drawn entirely from the New Testament. Peter's citation of a passage from earlier Scriptures gives us our only reference to the Old Testament. The second reading continues last week's introduction to the first Letter of Peter (1 Pt 1:17-21), a letter some scholars think actually began as a baptismal homily.
Catechesis this week can explore the Eucharist and the structure of the Mass. The Gospel combines the telling of stories with the breaking of bread, a parallel to the two parts of our eucharistic service. Catechesis may also reinforce the very basics of the Christian creed. Today's first reading will provide an excellent starting point. If you were to write your own creed, what would you include? The second reading may open a discussion on moral behavior: Since we believe these things about Christ, what effect should that have in our decisions and conduct at home and at work?
Fourth Sunday of Easter (May 2, 1993)
Today the church tradition reserves for the image of the Good Shepherd. Today's Gospel (John 10:1-10) is from the classic self-description Jesus gives us of his role as shepherd and gate. How fitting that today's responsorial psalm speaks of God as shepherd (Psalm 23). It's more a response to the Gospel, even though it comes before! The second reading (1 Pt 2: 20-25) remarkably picks up the same theme while it continues our reading of First Peter. And the first reading offers the continuation of the story of Pentecost day.
Catechesis may explore leadership as it occurs in the church's structure, or in the family. What goes to make a good shepherd? What does it mean to be gate for the community? Just who are the thieves and marauders who steal into the sheepfold? An exploration of suffering in a Christian context will find help in today's second reading, where we may compare our own sufferings from addictions or sin with the quiet passion of Christ. The first reading may inspire catechesis about the nature of preaching and its effects on the community, the importance of baptism in the church's membership and legislation, and the meaning of conversion throughout one's life.
Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 9, 1993)
The liturgy of Easter shifts now. The Gospels that began with stories after the resurrection and continued with a reflection of Jesus as shepherd now turn to the Last Supper, where we hear the promises Jesus makes to the church and the prayer he offers the Father. Today (John 14:1-12) he encourages the disciples while explaining to them that he is the way, the truth, and the life. The first reading (Acts 6:1-7) describes the selection of the first deacons for the early church. And the second reading (1 Pt 2:2-9) turns its attention to the nature of the community, a royal priesthood, compared with Christ, the cornerstone.
Catechesis may focus on the nature of Jesus. Look at the images from these readings: the way, the truth, the life, the one going to prepare a place, the one who is in the Father, the rejected but approved cornerstone, and so on. Easter wants us to learn who Jesus is in the light of the resurrection. This is the season to explore Christology. Another discussion could focus on the diaconate, its origins and purpose in the church, and how the church divides our ministries. Comparisons to family or other communities may help. How can ministries best serve community?
Sixth Sunday of Easter (May 16, 1993)
Today's liturgy prepares us for Ascension. The Ascension will leave the apostles wondering what happened -- when will Jesus come back? Today's Gospel (John 14:15-21) was an important passage for them to remember in the first days after Jesus was gone. He promises to return, not to leave his own orphaned. Meanwhile, he enjoins us to obey the commandments out of love. The first reading continues the story of baptism and the sending of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:5-8, 14-17), and the second reading (1 Pt. 3:15-18) moves again from belief in Christ to moral living, and assures us of the hope that is ours through faithfully living the Gospel.
Catechesis on the second reading and the Gospel many speak about the absence of Christ from people's spiritual lives, dry periods of prayer, and the hope we hold out for Christ's promises. The first reading may inspire a catechesis on confirmation, since it is frequently cited in defense of that sacrament.
Ascension (May 20, 1993)
St. Luke records the story of the Ascension for us in Acts (1:1-11). Mathew gives us his version in the Gospel (28:16-20), and Paul's letter to the Ephesians (1:17-23) compares the work of God inside us with God's work in raising Christ from death and seating him in glory.
Catechesis may be as basic as retelling this part of the story of the life of Christ. Christians should be familiar with the basics of this biography, especially since this episode occurs in the Creed we recite Sunday after Sunday. An explanation of the Ascension will find practical points in the second reading, which takes the Ascension out of its historical past and makes it very present -- God's power now at work in the believer.
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