Preacher’s Sketchbook: Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 20, 2014
Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
Benedict XVI, Easter Vigil Homily, 2006
“I live and you will live also”, says Jesus in Saint John’s Gospel (Jn 14,19) to his disciples, that is, to us. We will live through our existential communion with him, through being taken up into him who is life itself. Eternal life, blessed immortality, we have not by ourselves or in ourselves, but through a relation – through existential communion with him who is Truth and Love and is therefore eternal: God himself. Simple indestructibility of the soul by itself could not give meaning to eternal life, it could not make it a true life. Life comes to us from being loved by him who is Life; it comes to us from living-with and loving-with him. I, but no longer I: this is the way of the Cross, the way that “crosses over” a life simply closed in on the I, thereby opening up the road towards true and lasting joy.
Benedict XVI, Easter Vigil Homily, 2008
In his farewell discourse, Jesus announced his imminent death and resurrection to his disciples with these mysterious words: “I go away, and I will come to you”, he said (Jn 14,28). Dying is a “going away”. Even if the body of the deceased remains behind, he himself has gone away into the unknown, and we cannot follow him (cf. Jn 13,36). Yet in Jesus’s case, there is something utterly new, which changes the world. In the case of our own death, the “going away” is definitive, there is no return. Jesus, on the other hand, says of his death: “I go away, and I will come to you.” It is by going away that he comes. His going ushers in a completely new and greater way of being present. By dying he enters into the love of the Father. His dying is an act of love. Love, however, is immortal. Therefore, his going away is transformed into a new coming, into a form of presence which reaches deeper and does not come to an end.
Benedict XVI, Homily for the Ordination of Priests, 2008
We also find in this Gospel passage the mysterious Trinitarian “movement” that leads the Holy Spirit and the Son to dwell in the disciples. Here, it is Jesus himself who promises that he will ask the Father to send his Spirit, defined as “another Paraclete” (Jn 14,16), a Greek word that is equivalent to the Latin “ad-vocatus”, an advocate-defender. The first Paraclete is in fact the Incarnate Son who came to defend man from the accuser by antonomasia, who is Satan. At the moment when Christ, his mission fulfilled, returns to the Father, he sends the Spirit as Defender and Consoler to remain with believers for ever, dwelling within them. Thus, through the mediation of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, an intimate relationship of reciprocity is established between God the Father and the disciples: “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you”, Jesus says (Jn 14,20). However, all this depends on one condition which Christ imposes clearly at the beginning: “If you love me” (Jn 14,15), and which he repeats at the end: “He who obeys the commandments he has from me is the man who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father. I too will love him and reveal myself to him” (Jn 14,21). Without love for Jesus, which is expressed in the observance of his commandments, the person is excluded from the Trinitarian movement and begins to withdraw into himself, losing the ability to receive and to communicate God.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Christians of the first centuries said, “The world was created for the sake of the Church.” God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the “convocation” of men in Christ, and this “convocation” is the Church. The Church is the goal of all things, and God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels’ fall and man’s sin only as occasions and means for displaying all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give the world: Just as God’s will is creation and is called “the world,” so his intention is the salvation of men, and it is called “the Church.”
St. John Paul II, Homily at the Conclusion of the 44th International Eucharistic Congress, 1989
From the Eucharist springs the Church’s mission and capacity to offer her specific contribution to the human family. The Eucharist effectively transmits Christ’s parting gift to the world: “Peace I give you, my peace I leave you” (Cfr. Jn 14,27). The Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ’s “peace” because it is the memorial of the salvific redemptive sacrifice of the Cross. The Eucharist is the sacrament of victory over the divisions that flow from personal sin and collective selfishness. Therefore the Eucharistic community is called to be a model and instrument of a reconciled humanity. In the Christian community there can be no division, no discrimination, no separation among those who break the Bread of Life around the one Altar of Sacrifice.
Sunday Preacher’s Resource
Additional Preaching Resources
- The USCCB: Easter Resources
- The Holy See: Easter
- Fr. Thomas Rosica (Salt and Light Media)
- The Torch
- Fr. Francis Martin Website
- Biblius Clerus, a resource of the Congregation for the Clergy
- The Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Image: Ilya Repin, The Lord’s Supper