A vision of the church across time

15 May, 2022 5th Sunday Easter Year C

Photo courtesy Carol Bengough

This Sunday’s readings give us an understanding of the life of the Church. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see the Church’s very beginnings. Paul and Barnabas travel between cities sharing the Good News of the gospel.

In their travels, they shared the gospel, encouraged the fledgling churches, and helped them put together a stable leadership. It is fascinating to see how the Holy Spirit moved within the early Church. We see the earliest Christians entrusting themselves and each other to God’s grace. This reliance on God enflames their spiritual life and helps them make practical, everyday decisions, deal with hardships and love each other. In Acts, we see the prototype for how the Church should move in this world, as a body dedicated to spreading the gospel and loving service in practical matters. 

In the second reading, we see a more mystical vision of the Church as it will look in the life to come. The Book of Revelation describes the people of God as a ‘New Jerusalem’, who have been prepared like a couple on their wedding day.

The Book of Revelation reveals how we will come out of the hardships of this world made new and holy. In this vision, we see a glimpse of the Church’s future, where our God will “wipe every tear” from our eyes. This has been the destiny that God has designed for his people from the very beginning. When God created all of us, he envisioned the perfecting of the human race to live eternally with him. This is the goal that the Church strives for in this life with the hope of reaching it in the next.

And in today’s gospel, we hear about the lynchpin of the Church. The Son of Man proclaims how he will be glorified by overcoming death and reconciling the human race with the Father. Because of the love that he has poured out for his people, he now tells his Church to love one another in the same way.

His glorification has made everything else in today’s readings possible. Everything from the historical details of Paul and Barnabas’ leadership of the Church to the hope that awaits the glorified Church in Heaven, to our simple acts of love for each other today, all come as a direct result of the grace of Jesus Christ. Because he loved us first, we can love one another and know this love for all eternity.

We have a vision of the Church across time. Although we labour through hardships and sufferings of our present time, the Church is a kingdom of “glorious splendour” that ‘endures through all generations.’ And it is all because we have been loved by the Son of God who gives the Church the grace to love one another.                           

Joseph Doyle

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