Fifth Sunday of Easter A
Updated: May 22
May 10, 2020
By Rev. John Tran
There is always a “catch” in dealing with Jesus. The words of today's gospel were spoken to the disciples shortly before Jesus' passion. They could just have well be spoken to them at the Ascension when they ask if they will come into the Kingdom now. These words could just as well have been spoken to us today. Confusion envelops the disciples as they learn that Jesus will leave them. We sometimes feel Jesus' absence as well. We can feel just like Thomas: we don't know where you are going, show us the way; or like Philip: show us the Father and that will be enough for us. He tells us not to be disturbed, because he is always with us and has prepared a place for us in his Father's house. But that Jesus is physically leaving us, or has left us is one catch.
The second catch is express in the reading from First Peter. Jesus tell us that he is a living cornerstone. A cornerstone does not exist all alone, with no other stone attached to it. A cornerstone's purpose is to square a building, to make it strong. So Jesus is not a cornerstone in the abstract. He is connected to other stones. And not just any stones. Jesus wants to be connected to living stones – and those living stones are his disciples, they are us today. This is the second catch: to be a living stone, we must be like Jesus.
To be like Jesus, to be a living stone requires, several things. Jesus does not ask anything of us that he does not require of himself. Soon after these words to his disciples, Jesus lives out his passion and death. To be a living stone calls us to whatever suffering we find as we go about living out Jesus' message and making our lives like his. We can get a lot of sorrow and suffering in doing this. After all, we are called to be other Christs. To be other Christs, we are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, give attention to those imprisoned whether physically or spiritually. In short, we are to do the things Jesus did and not just say what he said. It is a tall order to be another Christ.
Jesus tell us: “I AM in the Father and the Father is in me.” We too are in the Father if we are other Christs. And if we are, there are dwelling places for us in our Father's house. We really do not have to let our hearts be troubled. If we accept being part of Jesus' passion, and strive to become living stones in the building that is Christ; resurrection will come to us, and the Father's life will be in us forever. Resurrection is key in finding Jesus and being one with him. And resurrection means being joined to Christ by giving ourselves to the service of others as a living stone.
On November 26, 1965, Time magazine had a story that can give us all food for thought. An electrical fuse about the size of a bread box failed, resulting in 80,000 square miles along the US-Canadian border being plunged in darkness. All the electrical power for that entire region passed through that single fuse. Without that fuse no power could reach any point in that vast region. Like that fuse box each of us has a tremendous potential for good or evil, which can affect a multitude. Jesus promises us believers all His power and even more. All we have to do is walk the way he walked and be Jesus to a waiting world!
So in the end, this is the catch and the choice is ours, just like it was for the disciples. Are we going to be a stumbling block or a living stepping stone for others, and especially those who are the least ones? Will we be a lonely stone separated from Jesus, or a living stone in that building which is Christ?