by Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo, O.M.I, Archbishop-Emeritus of Cotabato
Liturgy of the Word
Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2, 22-29
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
1. 1st Reading, Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 -- The decision of the Council of Jerusalem. The issue in Antioch is whether or not Gentile converts are obliged to observe the Mosaic Law, as some of the Jewish converts strongly assert (vv. 1-2). So, the community sends Paul and Barnabas to bring the issue to Jerusalem. The Council of Apostles and presbyters makes its decision and sends Paul and Barnabas back to Antioch, with Silas and Barsabbas, also named Judas, to represent the Council (v. 22).
2. The decision -- "The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings" (v. 23). "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell" (vv. 28-29).
3. The decision marks a partial break, a gradual transition, from the Mosaic law to New Testament religious practices.
4. Responsorial Ps. 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 -- A song of praise for God -- "May God be gracious to us and bless us; may his face shine upon us. So shall your way be known upon the earth, your victory among all the nations" (vv. 2-3). "You judge the peoples with fairness.... May all the peoples praise you, God!" (vv. 5-6). "May God bless us, that the ends of the earth may revere him" (v. .
5. 2nd Reading, Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23 -- John has a vision of the heavenly New Jerusalem, the Church. An angel takes John to a high mountain and shows him "the bride (the Church), the wife of the Lamb,... the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God" (also Rev 21:2; in 2 Cor. 11:2, Paul describes the Church as a chaste virgin betrothed to Christ). "It gleamed with the splendor of God," radiant and clear like precious stones (vv. 9-11).
6. It had a massive high wall, with 12 gates, guarded by 12 angels. The names of the 12 tribes of Israel were inscribed on the gates (vv. 12-13). The 12 foundation stones of the walls had the names of the 12 Apostles of the Lamb, Jesus (v. 14. The symbolic descriptions of the Church, the New Jerusalem, are from Ez. 40-48).
7. John did not see any temple. The temple of the heavenly Jerusalem is God almighty himself and the Lamb (v. 22). God's presence pervades the whole heavenly city. The New Jerusalem does not need the light of the sun or the moon. God's glory illuminates it. The Lamb is the light (v. 23; see Jn. 8:12, I am the light of the world").
8. "The nations will walk by its light, and to it the kings of the earth will bring their treasure" (v. 24; see Is. 60:3, 5,11). All peoples and nations of good will are welcome in the Church. Everyone may offer the treasured sacrifices of their lives.
9. Gospel, Jn. 14: 23-29 -- Jesus contnues his Last Discourse at the Last Supper on love and the Holy Spirit (vv. 15-21). Whoever loves Jesus keeps his word. His word is the Father's word. He and the Father will dwell with him (vv. 23-24). The Advocate, the Holy Spirit will come and will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you (v. 26).
10. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you" (v. 27). The peace that Jesus gives is infinitely more than what the world can give. His peace is the peace of salvation, the messianic gift of boundless blessings.
11. "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (v. 27, repeats v.1 of the discourse, a literary device of "inclusion"). Because of everything that Jesus has said, vv. 1-27 -- his going away, God's love and his indwelling, the peace that Jesus alone can give, the coming of the Holy Spirit -- because of all these, the Apostles should not be afraid.
12. So rejoice that I am going away to the Father, who is "greater than I" (v. 28, "greater" because it was the Father who sent him and gave him the truth to tell, see Jn 8:40). "I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe" (v. 29).
13. Prayer -- Almighty God and Father, your Divine Son, Jesus, told us not to be afraid. We place our complete trust in your love. Grant, we pray, that the spread of Covid-19 be totally prevented, that our political divisons may be healed, and that the peace that only Jesus Christ can give may be ours. This we ask through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
May God be gracious to us and bless us! Prayers, stay safe, Alleluiah!