focus of the day:

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ACTS 5 : 27 -32, 40 - 41
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WITNESSING RESURRECTION

     The gospel of John had already presented two appearances of the Risen Jesus: firstly to Mary Magdalene and then to the disciples gathered behind locked doors. In today's gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples, who had resumed their daily work of fishing.
     In each appearance, John points out that the Risen Jesus isn't recognised at first; His resurrection doesn't appear obvious to His disciples. Yet He is there. His body bears the marks of the death He had endured. His presence reveals that life overcomes death!
 

the first reading:

In the Book of Acts, the apostles are called to account before the Hebrew Supreme Court (the Sanhedrin) about the healing of a lame man.

ACTS 5 : 27 -32, 40 - 41

     The apostles Peter and John had earlier been called before Hebrew society's Supreme Court to be interrogated about the healing of a lame man and in the presence of the priests, temple police and Sadducees (cf Ac.3:1-10). On that occasion Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah, who although not recognised by the Hebrew leaders, immersed His disciples in YHWH's "living Torah" and brought YHWH's cause in history to completion!
     By their persistence in the telling of this "good news" about Jesus the apostles provided an invitation to the Hebrews to re-gather as a community around the Torah values of joyful, liberated obedience. That aroused their opponents to act. Peter and the other apostles had been apprenticed in Jesus' settled instincts and performance skills of living Torah, so their practice reproduces in a new situation the same prophetic activity by which people are attracted to the Torah which completes the conditions of God's reigning.
     But they are accused of spreading a message, "in the name." Their message was promoting the skills of Jesus for living the Torah of the God of history! The apostles affirm the value of their practice. For them it was a matter of obedience. It was not an attack on the guilt or otherwise of their opponents. Obedience to Jesus' message demanded a response of practical faith in God's revelation in history.
     The preaching of Peter and other apostles empowers for a new future that is linked to the power of God - to work, "miracles, portents and signs," culminating in the resurrection (Ac.2:22-24). Thus the Spirit of Jesus leads to a discernment and reception of God's crucifixion - of God's raising the crucified One to glory. Obedience means that Peter and the apostles act, "in the name"(of Jesus) inviting Hebrew religious leaders to change their negative attitude towards the Jesus-movement.
     The Sanhedrin had Peter and the apostles flogged and released, with a prohibition to speak, "in the name." God's power-for-life raised up Jesus, "the Saviour of humankind!" Despite persecution, apostles consider obedience to Jesus' Spirit is the physical side of this salvation in the religious sense. Obedience is faithfulness to God's way of the future. Accourding to Peter and the apostles, the power and authority of the God of history is revealed by Jesus' prophetic practice. The duty of a disciple is to proclaim Jesus' name boldly! No relgious or secular authority can compel silence. This proclaiming liberates and cures. It opens up the power for life and newness at the same time as it awakens fear and opposition!
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the response:

The traditional Hebrew response to God's actions was praise and thanksgiving. They noticed a change in their community's fortunes and attribute the turn-around to God's power-for-life. The traditional Psalms of Praise receive new impetus in the light of Jesus' resurrection.

PSALM 30 : 1, 3 - 5, 10 - 12

     A song of thanksgiving because YHWH has rescued the speaker from death. It's also an invitation to the faithful, rescued ones, to do the same. The speaker sketches the history of the relationship with YHWH. From well-being, to the "pits of Sheol" and then, to "new life"! Because the new life is given only by YHWH silence is impossible - sullenness, depression, numbness and despair are ended!
     The response to this inexplicable and unexpected new life is the speaker's confession of thankful praising. The voicing of such gratitude is a sign of commitment to the new life which is only possible among those who vividly remember their situation before their rescue! The speaker wants to keep the memory alive, so that the transforming moment is kept alive too! In that moment are found both the empowering for life and the reasons for pasionate praising of YHWH.
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the second reading:

The Seer in the Book of Revelation visions a faith-filled, obedient community, singing praise all the way to Holy God's throne.

REVELATION 5 : 11 - 14

     The traditional Hebrew response to the action of God was praise and thanksgiving. They noticed the transformations of their community life and attributed the saving turn-around in their fortunes to YHWH's power-for-life. The songs of praise receive new impetus, as God acts, again and again, for the sake of the people. Here the Seer in the Book of Revelation, visions the faithful, obedient community singing praises all the way to the holy God's throne.
     The Seer dares to imagine that even beyond human sight, the triumphant community (that means our treasured dead) are still singing "at the throne!" Praise goes on, because the reliable solidarity of God-with-us goes on! The faithful ones' singing continues to be responsive to God's continuing solidarity! Life finally ends in praise. The theme of this praise is:
    The kingdom of the world
    has become the kingdom of our God
    and His Christ
    and God will reign
    for ever and ever.
  (Rv.11:15)

     The scene before the throne sharply contrasts with the present situation of the community. Forces of evil are at war with the Christian movement. All seems contrary to the promise of glory heralded by Christ's resurrection. By presenting the final outcome of this struggle, the Seer's vision rather than offer an escape, presses the conviction that the song of praise goes on because the "fear not" solidarity of God-with-us goes on! This vision encourages faithful disciples in the midst of persecution. This vision extends a powerful word of hope fto all who suffer!
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the Gospel:

The Risen Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias in Galilee. They make a surpising catch of fish and after this meeting with the Risen Jesus, they cease fishing and devote themselves to spreading the "good news."

JOHN 21 : 1 - 19

     Earlier the disciples had a special evening meal with Jesus before His death. This appearance of Jesus is linked to a meal theme with strong eucharistic allusions. At the time of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (beside the same lake) the gospel account uses the same words to describe Jesus' action:
    Jesus took the loaves,
    gave thanks and distributed
    them to those who were sitting there;
    He then did the same with the fish,
    distributing as much as they wanted.
(Jn.6:11)

And again in the appearance to the disciples at Emmaus. Now the gospel uses the same words:
    Jesus . . , took the bread
    and gave it to them
    and the same with the fish.
  (Jn.21:13)

Jesus has everyone taking part in a common meal, a communion! In the Synoptic accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus states that the communion of the community of disciples was His "body." Now He has that communion with them in the bread and fish. The Risen Jesus is experienced in eucharistic gatherings. This is the point of departure for disciples whose task is to now transform the world. Setting out on a mission of transformation is linked to eucharistic meals. This tradition concerning a miraculous catch of fish, is an appropriate image for the task of including new-comers in the Christian community.
     The netting of fish is not an appropriate image for the on-going care of those who are so brought in. In the gospel narrative the image changes as Jesus ignores the fish and instructs Peter:
    When they had eaten,
    Jesus said to Simon Peter,
  "Simon son of John, do you love me
    more than these others do?"
    He answered, "Yes, Lord,
    you know I love you."
    Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
  (Jn.21:15)

     The time-honoured image in the scriptures of on-going care of those who are brought into the community, is shepherding. The Johannine imagery shifts from Peter the fisherman to Peter the shepherd. But before Simon Peter is assigned the role of "tending sheep" he is asked insistently, "Do you love me?" According to the narrative, if authority is given, it must be based on love of Jesus! And Jesus continues to speak of: "My lambs," "My sheep."
The members of the community continue to belong to the One who said,
    I am the good shepherd;
    I know my own
    and my own know Me.
"(Jn.10:14)

     Jesus' conversation with Peter includes multiple questions and answers bearing on an apostle's role. In place of a net full of fish, the metaphor for community is now a sheepfold. If Peter assumes the shepherding role, he must meet the Johannine qualifications for shepherding. These are; that "the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (Jn.10:11). Having instructed Peter three times to, "feed" or "tend the sheep," in the next breath Jesus tells him about the way in which He will be put to death!! This death will be the proof that, in Peter's role as shepherd, loving discipleship has been given priority (Jn.13:5 & 15:13).
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