04 May, 2019. Saturday, 2nd Week of Easter

Saturday of Week 2 of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 6:1-7

Selection and ordination of the church’s first deacons

During those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Responsorial: Psalm 32: 1-2, 4-5, 18-19

Response: Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs. (R./)
For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love. (R./)
The Lord looks on those who revere him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine. (R./)

Gospel: John 6:16-21

Jesus calms a storm on the lake of Galilee

When evening came, the disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.
When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

To serve the Church’s real needs

This gospel implies that when we forge ahead recklessly without reference to Jesus, we are in danger of sinking. But the Lord is always near on our voyage of life, to help us back on course again. There is optimism in today’s texts, whether it be Jesus saving the disciples from the waves, or the apostles resolving a crisis in the early church, by compromise and common sense. When the Greek-speaking Christians complained that their widows were being in the distribution of food-aid, the Twelve got the community to nominate seven prudent officials, to oversee the care of the Greek-speaking widows.
The task of those first seven deacons suggests at least a partial solution to the vocations crisis facing our Church today: how to ensure that sacramental service to the People of God will continue, despite the gradual disappearance of the celibate priesthood. The twelve apostles did not seek to solve disputed issues by dogmatic decree. Their appointing of deacons, after seeking consensus among the faithful about worthy candidates, has much to recommend it, as compared with our methods of episcopal selection. We need to use our intelligence when seeking solutions. The apostles did not act like dictators, imposing decisions from headquarters on a local situation. The involved the community in discernment, in a process from the bottom up. They let the Greek-speakers select their own representatives, the seven deacons, who were then publicly ordained by the laying on of hands.
Despite the imperfections of our church, real faith can continue. There’s encouragement in this story of Jesus walking on the water. We do not know what God will do, to heal our Church of our present malaise. Miracles can happen. We must be willing to live the risky adventure of faith, whereby God can step in at crucial moments and shift gears for us.
Continuity is important too. We renew our commitment to our faith community even if we have to sometimes raise our voice in loyal protest. We do not stomp out because of frustration, or try to resolve issues by a shouting match. In the Acts we are impressed by the quiet, non-dominant style of the Twelve. Along with experience and wiisdom, they have recourse to prayer and then consult the faithful before taking decisions that affect the whole community. If that is how authority was exercised in the early Church, we hope the same moderate style will re-emerge in today’s Church.

A friend near us, amid life’s storms

The disciples sailed away in their boat, to cross the Lake of Galilee, while Jesus went off into the hills to pray. The gospel suggests that his communion with God in prayer did not make him unaware of the needs of his friends. He knew his disciples were struggling in their boat against a headwind, worn out with the rowing, and came to save them from the storm.
If our prayer is genuine, it deepens our awareness of others. As we reach out to God in prayer, we are drawn up into God’s compassion for people. if our prayer is a real opening up to God, it leaves us more open to others, especially any who feel overwhelmed by the storms of life. When Jesus got into the boat to join his struggling disciples, the wind dropped and they found themselves in a much calmer space. We too must open ourselves up to the Lord’s calming, strengthening presence. Prayer strengthens us to be channels of his presence to others.


Saint Conleth, bishop

Conleth (450-519?) was an Irish hermit and metalworker, who became a copyist and skilled illuminator of manuscripts. He was the first Bishop of Kildare and is patron of the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.

One Comment

  1. Jim Mc Hugh says:

    We HOPE the same moderate style will re-emerge in today’s church” Will those with ” the smell of the Sheep”upon them “raise their voices in loyal protest” UNTIL there is an active listening, as in today’s ACTS

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