Fifth Sunday of Easter, C
You can discuss one or more of these teachings of the church today. Use your powers of discernment to make your choice based on three criteria:
- What have the catechumens been asking about?
- What issues came up during the dismissal reflections?
- What, in your opinion, needs clarification for the catechumens?
- God’s plan of salvation
- The unity of all Christians
- The dignity of all humanity
John 13:31-33, 34-35
Strengthen your wisdom powers by reflecting on the readings yourself before the catechetical session.
The first reading reminds us that the mission of the gospel imposes hardships on the faithful. This isn‘t a comfortable message to hear, and it isn‘t always expressed powerfully enough to the catechumens. What must be stressed is that they are signing up for a mission to preach salvation to all nations. The travels of Paul and Barnabas are a metaphor for how far and to what lengths we must go to tell the whole world about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God’s deepest desire is that all people be reconciled to God, and we are the agents of that reconciliation. God’s desire to draw all people into the Divine love is so strong that even the unbaptized can be saved if they have a sincere heart. Nevertheless, we find the fullness of God’s promise in complete union with Christ.
The reading from Revelation is a vision of the end of time when the Kingdom of God will be revealed in its fullness. John’s vision takes place on the Lord’s Day, and we can conclude this vision is a liturgical vision. In other words, the Sunday liturgy is always a vision of the fullness of God’s Reign of justice. John sees the full Divinity of God dwelling with the human race. If we believe in John’s vision of humanity, we cannot tolerate any injustice or oppression that would devalue the innate dignity with which we were created. Those who have been made in the image of God must always see themselves as godly.
Our god-likeness is a pure gift that flows from the love of God. In the gospel reading, Jesus makes this crystal clear to the disciples. In the context of the story, they might not yet know the full implications of Jesus’ exhortation: “As I have loved you.” However, John’s community certainly knew and we must make sure the catechumens know that Jesus loved us all the way to the cross. We are called to love others with as much commitment and passion. Jesus could love us that much because of the love he shared with the Father. At our baptism, we are drawn completely into the Divine love of the Holy Trinity and are thereby given the strength to love each other as God loves us.
Based on your discernment of the core belief(s) to emphasize today, connect one or more of these church teachings with what the catechumens experienced in the liturgy and what they have experienced in their daily lives this past week. Ask the sponsors to help the catechumens make these connections during the discussion.
- The purpose of the liturgy is the gather those whom God calls. John’s vision in Revelation is just such a gather or a “convocation.” It is an assembly of those whom God’s Word calls together to form the People of God. The gathering of God’s people is nourished with the Body of Christ and becomes the Body of Christ.
- In a very elegant way, the church of believers is both the means and the goal of God’s plan of salivation. The church comes into being through the words and actions of Jesus Christ. The ultimate action of Jesus is his death on the cross and his resurrection. Through the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the church becomes the Body of Christ and therefore the sacrament of salivation. The church is, however, still human and therefore imperfect. We will be perfected in death and in the resurrection of all believers into glory of heaven just as in John’s vision of the assembly of all the redeemed of the earth (cf. Rev 14:4).
- The assembly of believers is both visible and spiritual. The church is the Mystical Body of Christ both, human and divine.
- All those who have been baptized, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church, are part of the Mystical Body of Christ.
- All who have been baptized share in the promise of God’s eternal salvation.
- The very purpose of human existence is to be the image of God in the world. The fullness of this purpose is made manifest in Jesus, the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).
- Integral to becoming the image of God is entering fully into our relationships with other humans. God did not create us to be solitary being. From the beginning, we were intended to be in relationship, just as the Holy Trinity is in relationship (see Gen 1:27).
- The original holiness and justice of the first man and woman before sin flowed from their friendship with each other and with God. That is the “paradise” our faith journey leads us back to.
God’s plan of salvation
(see CCC 777-780)
The unity of all Christians
(see CCC 1271)
The dignity of all humanity
(see CCC 380-384)
Saving the World
Ask the catechumens to reflect back what they heard today. Ask them to name one or two practical ways they will put their new learning into practice in the coming week.
Close with a prepared prayer or a spontaneous prayer led by one of the team members or one of the sponsors.