of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

We continue to explore the meaning of baptism, of membership of the Church, of living a life which has been immersed in the life and death of Jesus Christ: in other words, we continue our ‘Mystagogy’ - our training in the mystery of Baptism and the other Sacraments. We hear more about ‘who Jesus is’, with another ‘I am’ statement: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. We are baptised into his way, his truth and his life. We hear about the earliest community struggling with the life they are called to by baptism, and Peter again reminds us that baptism builds us into a ‘spiritual house’ with Jesus as our cornerstone. The mystery of the Church is clearly before us today: the Church is the community of those baptised in Christ, the pilgrim people walking with Christ (who has shown us the Father) to the place he has prepared for us. Today’s reading can perhaps make us think a little about how we form part of this ‘spiritual house’, the Church, as we journey to the Father.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7.
Nothing in this world is perfect for long - the same is, of course, true of the first community of disciples. Having started so well, we see the cracks appearing today: some members were ‘converts’ from Judaism, some had been pagans before baptism. These two groups within the Church were disagreeing about the common distribution of food - a very practical problem, not a complex theological issue! The solution is, literally, inspired: the establishing of a new ministry to care for this particular question, and to leave the apostles free to pray and proclaim the Word. In reading this passage there are few problems (apart from the list of names - don’t worry too much about them: read them as they are written). The effectiveness of your proclamation of the reading depends greatly on your own understanding: perhaps the key element is the apostles’ concern for the word of God, which drives them to find a practical solution so quickly. (Perhaps also the emphasis on the ministry of the Word may help you come to a deeper understanding of your own ministry as a reader.)
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-9.
Peter, in this section of his letter, develops an image: the image of Christ as the keystone, or cornerstone of the building which is the Church. This image has its origin in scripture (Psalm 117, which we sang at the Easter Vigil), and would have been familiar to those reading Peter’s letter. It is less familiar to us, so take care with the reading, announcing the image with care: ‘The Lord is the living stone...’ - if you don’t say ‘stone’ clearly, people will lose the image. Throughout the reading, when the word ‘you’ appears, remember that these words are addressed to the congregation this morning: Peter is explaining to us the meaning of our baptism into the Lord Jesus.

From the Catechism

Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 2746-2751

Christ opens for us the way to heaven
CCC 661, 1025-1026, 2795

Believing in Jesus
CCC 151, 1698, 2614, 2466

The order of deacons
CCC 1569-1571

“A chosen race, a royal priesthood”
CCC 782, 803, 1141, 1174, 1269, 1322

CCC 1569-1571

"At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands 'not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry."' At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon's special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his "diakonia." Deacons share in Christ's mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ("character") which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity. Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin Church has restored the diaconate "as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy," while the Churches of the East had always maintained it. This permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an important enrichment for the Church's mission. Indeed it is appropriate and useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable works, should "be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate."

Gospel Wordsearch