As we shift from the busyness of May to the subtle simplicity of summer, the liturgy glides us through the end of Easter, past some special feasts, and on to the relief of ordinary time.
Seventh Sunday of Easter (May 23, 1993)
Typically the words of John's Gospel are not difficult to understand. First-year Greek students find this part of the New Testament a snap to translate. But the sentences of John's Gospel - the sentences are hard to comprehend. John packs a lot of theology into a straightforward account, so his texts demand deep mediation. Jesus begins his prayer to the Father today (John 17:1-11) by asking the Father to let his glory be known, but in Jesus' resurrection and in the witness of the apostles.
The brief account from Acts (1:12-14) that opens today's Liturgy of the Word describes what the apostles were doing between the Ascension and Pentecost. Their main purpose was prayer, and participation in this ministry belonged to women as well as men.
Today's second reading (1Pt 4:13-16), most likely addressed to newly baptized members of the early church, reminds the new Christians that they will suffer as Christ did, but they will share the same glory.
Catechesis this week may include the glory of God, the mission of the Son, prayer as reflected in the life of Jesus and with the apostles, and how followers of Christ share in his mission, his suffering, and his glory. It's a good week to see the many aspects in which "church" is the "body of Christ."
Pentecost (May 30, 1993)
Passages from the Old Testament return today for the Vigil of Pentecost. Genesis (11:1-9) tells the story of the tower of Babel, which explained the confusion of languages, a situation contrasted with the gift of tongues. Exodus (19:3-8, 16-20) describes the theophany of God on Mount Sinai in words which will be echoed in the description of the coming of the Holy Spirit in the upper room in wind and flame. Ezekiel (37:1-14) recalls the vision of dry bones coming to life, a foreshadowing of the gift of the Holy Spirit revivifying God's chosen people. And Joel (3:1-5) gives us the complete text from which St. Peter will quote in his sermon on Pentecost Sunday after the coming of the Spirit.
On Pentecost itself we begin with the story of the feast from Acts of the Apostles (2:1-11). Paul tells the Church at Corinth about the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13). And Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit upon the apostles in one of his post-resurrection appearances.
Catechesis this week should focus on the role of the Holy Spirit, what the Spirit's coming meant in the plan of salvation, and how the Spirit is manifest in the church. One could also explore the relationship between Old and New Testament, as the Vigil readings lead us.
Trinity Sunday (June 6, 1993)
Although every prayer at Mass all year long is addressed to God the Father through Jesus in the Holy Spirit, today's opening prayer from the sacramentary offers a prayer addressed to the whole Trinity. It's a rare moment in the prayer life of the church.
Today's Gospel (Jn 3:16-18) begins with one of the most often quoted texts of the whole Bible. It explains the mission of the Son. The second reading (2 Cor 13:11-13) quotes one of St. Paul's popular blessings, used frequently at the beginning of Mass. The first reading (Ex 34:4-6, 8-9) tells how God accompanied Moses coming down the mountain with the two stone tablets in hand. God pronounced the sacred name and Moses fell down in worship.
Catechesis will unfold the mystery of the Trinity in all its grandeur. We might examine the many titles of God, the plan of God for creation in time, and the presence of the Trinity in the life of the church at prayer and in our relationships.
The Body and Blood of Christ (June 13, 1993)
This feast helps us meditate again on the mystery of the Eucharist, the abiding presence of Jesus with the church.
John's Gospel greets us again this week as we hear Jesus give his sublime discourse on the bread of life (6:51-58). The brief passage from 1 Corinthians (10:16-17) is the earliest recorded evidence of the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper. Paul has handed this remarkable tradition down to us, and we remember these words every day at Mass. Moses stirs the hearts of his people dragging through the desert by inviting them to "remember" (Dt 8:2-3, 14-16). As Jesus will ask us to take and drink "in memory of me," Moses has the people remember how God cared for them by providing manna and water in the desert.
Catechesis will focus on the presence of Christ in the eucharist, and the revelation of this presence through the mystery of memory, or anamnesis. A catechesis on the Eucharistic Prayer would be beneficial.
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (June 20, 1993)
We re-enter the cycle of readings from Matthew's Gospel and discover Jesus in the midst of instructions for the disciples (10:26-33). He predicts they may have a rough time on the road and encourages them to persevere. Matthew's own community, well aware of persecution, will need to hear these words again.
We recall the words of Jeremiah, another
"disciple" of God, whose enemies threatened the success of his work.
In the midst of distress, Jeremiah can still sing a song of praise (20:10-13).
Our second readings will come from Paulís Letter to the Romans from now till after Labor Day. This is a difficult letter, but well worth a studied overview. Todayís brief text (5:12-15) compares Christ with Adam, from the entry of sin to the gift of redemption. This passage lies behind Augustine's doctrine of original sin.
Catechesis the week may cover adversity in the life of the Christian, the call to discipleship, the nature of sin and redemption, and the hope one finds in God when tempted to despair.
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (June 27, 1993)
Jesus continues his talk with the apostles about the mission that lies ahead. Although the story has him addressing the apostles on their early missionary work, one can hear Jesus addressing Matthew's own church community and ours as well. Do not hold back on love for Jesus, take up a cross, and be prepared for those who do not welcome you (10:37-42).
An example of hospitality comes in today's first reading (2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16), where we hear how well Elisha was received while on his missionary journey.
Paul tells us our baptism was into the death of Christ so that we might rise with him as well. This passage (Rom 6:3-4, 8-11) also occurs at the Easter Vigil, where baptism is a central focus.
Catechesis will touch on the mission of each Christian, the obstacles we face, the obligation of Christian hospitality, and the meaning of baptism and resurrection.