Day of Pentecost

Pentecost, meaning fifty days, is the name in Greek for the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) in the Hebrew Bible. It occurs seven weeks after the beginning of Passover, on the fiftieth day. With consistently covenantal associations, Pentecost came to be seen among Jesus’ followers as the seal of his continuing, risen presence with them in the form of the divine Spirit that he sent to them. The reading from Genesis (11:1-9) refers to God’s division of human speech into different languages, while the passage from Acts stresses the Spirit’s renewal of mutual understanding among all peoples. The passage in Acts (2:1-21) is the most famous of the readings appointed for the day, but the Gospel reading (John 14:8-17 [25-27]) stresses the continuing empowerment of the Spirit in the actions and teaching of Jesus’ followers. Paul views the coming of the Spirit as realized in baptism (Romans 8:14-17), while Psalm 104 articulates the theology that God’s Spirit animates the whole of creation. 

The First Reading
Acts 2:1–21
The Coming of the Spirit on Pentecost

The Apostle RockPeterreminds Gentile believers of their inclusion into the family of God by way of adoption through the receiving of the Spirit. With this reminder, Rock seeks to encourage believers to see their current suffering in light of the glory to come.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly from heaven came a sound like a forceful, rushing wind that filled the entire house where everyone was gathered. And dividing tongues like fire appeared to them, and they rested upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance to them. Now there were residing in Jerusalem devout Jews from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, the crowd gathered and was confused, because each one was hearing the others speaking in his own language. They were both bewildered and astonished asking, “Look! Are not all of these who are speaking Galileans? How are we hearing—each one of us—our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and those living in Mesopotamia, Judea, and also Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visiting Romans, both Judeans and also proselytes, Cretans and Arabians. We all hear them speaking in our own languages about the mighty works of God!” All were astonished and bewildered, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Others mocked, “They are full of sweet wine.” Rock—Peter—standing with the Eleven raised his voice and addressed them: “People of Judea and all those living in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and pay attention to my words. For these people are not drunk as you are assuming, for it is only the third hour in the day, but this is what had been foretold through the prophet Joel. It will be in the last days, God declares—‘I will pour out from my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters will prophesy, and your young will see visions and your old will dream dreams. Even upon my male servants and female servants in the last days I will pour out from my Spirit, and they will prophesy. And I will give wonders in the heavens above and signs upon the earth below—blood and fire, and column of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and magnificent day of the Lord comes. And it will be that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

or Genesis 11:1-9
The Tower of Babel

In the Tower of Babel story, human hubris is expressed in peoples’ attempts to make a name for themselves. The Israelite model is that God chooses people whose name God will make great (Abraham and his descendants; Genesis 12:1-3), and who in turn will honor and witness to God’s name. In response, God diminishes the perfection of creation by dividing humans into mutually unintelligible languages. Read in conjunction with the Tower of Babel narrative, Acts 2:1-21’s portrayal of people understanding each other across languages suggests that the availability to them of divine Spirit signals the world’s return to the perfect state God intended it to have at the time of creation. The Hebrew Bible’s story depicts the shattering of human cohesion in society. The book of Act’s story suggests that, through Jesus, the shattered social world is fully repaired.

The entire earth spoke one language and the same words. When they traveled from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. Now, they said to each other, “Let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” So they had bricks for stone and tar for mortar. They said, “Let’s build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the sky, to make a name for ourselves, so that we do not become scattered across the face of the earth.” The Lord came down to see this city and the tower people had built. The Lord said, “If, as one people with one language, they have begun to do this, nothing they want to accomplish will be beyond their ability. Let us therefore go down and confuse their language so that no person will understand the other’s language.” So the Lord scattered them from there across the face of the earth, and they ceased building this city. For this reason, it is called Babel, since there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth, and from there the Lord scattered them across the face of all the earth.

The Psalm
Psalm 104:23-34, 35b
God, Who Created All Living Things

God’s Spirit animates the whole of creation, reflected in all aspects of nature.

  • 23. A person goes out to labor,
    to work until evening.
  • 24. How many are your works, Lord!
    All of them you carried out with wisdom.
    The earth is full of your creations.
  • 25. There is the sea, vast and wide,
    swarming with unnumbered creatures,
    living things big and small.
  • 26. Ships traverse it,
    and Leviathan, which you created to play there.
  • 27. All of them turn to you for sustenance,
    to give them their food at the right time.
  • 28. You give it to them; they take it up;
    you open your hand; they are well satisfied.
  • 29. When you hide your face, they are terrified;
    when you make an end to their breath, they perish;
    to dust they return.
  • 30. When you extend your breath, they are created,
    and you renew the face of the earth.
  • 31. The Lord’s glory is forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in God’s creations,
  • 32. the one who stares at the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke.
  • 33. I shall sing to the Lord during my life,
    praise my God while I live.
  • 34. My contemplations will please God;
    I will rejoice in the Lord.
  • 35b. Praise the Lord, my inner being!
    Hallelujah!

The Second Reading
Romans 8:14–17
Heirs Along with the Anointed by Way of the Spirit

The Apostle Paul reminds Gentile believers of their inclusion into the family of God by way of adoption through the receiving of the Spirit. With this reminder, Paul seeks to encourage believers to see their current suffering in light of the glory to come.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these very ones are the children of God. For you did not receive a spirit for slavery again resulting in fear, but you received the Spirit to become God’s sons and daughters, by virtue of which we cry out, “Abba, Father!” That Spirit is bearing witness together with our spirit that we are children of God. So, if children, then heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs along with the Anointed—if indeed we are suffering with him, it is so that we can also be glorified with him.

or Acts 2:1–21
The Coming of the Spirit on Pentecost

The Apostle RockPeterreminds Gentile believers of their inclusion into the family of God by way of adoption through the receiving of the Spirit. With this reminder, Rock seeks to encourage believers to see their current suffering in light of the glory to come.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly from heaven came a sound like a forceful, rushing wind that filled the entire house where everyone was gathered. And dividing tongues like fire appeared to them, and they rested upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance to them. Now there were residing in Jerusalem devout Jews from every nation under heaven. When this sound occurred, the crowd gathered and was confused, because each one was hearing the others speaking in his own language. They were both bewildered and astonished asking, “Look! Are not all of these who are speaking Galileans? How are we hearing—each one of us—our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and those living in Mesopotamia, Judea, and also Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visiting Romans, both Judeans and also proselytes, Cretans and Arabians. We all hear them speaking in our own languages about the mighty works of God!” All were astonished and bewildered, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Others mocked, “They are full of sweet wine.” Rock—Peter—standing with the Eleven raised his voice and addressed them: “People of Judea and all those living in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and pay attention to my words. For these people are not drunk as you are assuming, for it is only the third hour in the day, but this is what had been foretold through the prophet Joel. It will be in the last days, God declares—‘I will pour out from my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters will prophesy, and your young will see visions and your old will dream dreams. Even upon my male servants and female servants in the last days I will pour out from my Spirit, and they will prophesy. And I will give wonders in the heavens above and signs upon the earth below—blood and fire, and column of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and magnificent day of the Lord comes. And it will be that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

The Gospel
John 14:8-17 [25-27]
Jesus’ Promise that God will send his Spirit as an Advocate

John conceives of the presence of God’s Spirit with Jesus’ followers as the living proof that Jesus and the Father are one. On that basis, Jesus could show who God truly is and could speak and act on the Father’s behalf. That power continues in the lives of Jesus’ students, because the Spirit sent by the Father enables them to act in even greater ways than Jesus did, and to teach the wisdom that he conveyed.

Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and it will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “How long have I been with you all and you do not know me, Philip? Who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The sayings that I say to you I do not speak from myself, but the Father who is in me does his deeds. Believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, but if not, believe because of these very deeds. Amen, amen, I say to you, the one who believes in me—that one will do the deeds that I do, and will do greater than these, because I proceed to the Father. And if anyone should ask something in my name, this I will do, so that the Father might be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commands, and I will appeal to the Father and he will give you another advocate, to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth—whom the world does not receive, because it does not perceive or know. You know, because Spirit remains with you and will be in you.”

“I have spoken these things to you while with you, but the advocate, the holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I said to you. Peace I leave you, my peace I give you: not as the world gives do I give you. Your heart shall not be troubled nor afraid.”

Seventh Sunday of Easter

As the season of Easter comes to a close, the themes of love and glory that John’s Gospel has stressed are brought together in the prayer which Jesus as High Priest offers as intercession on behalf of all believers. Jesus portrays love as the means by which he and the Father share their glory with the committed students. That relationship, defined by mutual glorification, also appears with a sense of finality in Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21. In the Lectionary, Psalm 97 echoes the regal language used in the visionary passage from the Revelation. Acts 16:16-34 portrays the power that characterizes the apostolic church on the basis of Jesus’ authorization.

The First Reading
Acts 16:16–34
Paul and Silas’ Witness in Philippi

The power of God over unclean spirits is displayed in Philippi through Paul’s continued witness to the Anointed Jesus, through the deliverance of a spirit-possessed slave girl, and through the miraculous deliverance of Paul and Silas from prison.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a young slave girl possessed by a spirit of divination, who brought much profit to her masters by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, “These men are servants of the highest God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation!” She did this for many days. But Paul, being deeply troubled, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus the Anointed, come out from her!” And it left her that very moment. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit had left, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the town square before the city authorities. They stood them up before the magistrates and said, “These men are causing trouble in our city. They are Judeans, and they are advocating customs that are not lawful for us to accept or practice as Romans!” The crowd then gathered in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and were giving orders to beat them with rods. After hitting them, they threw them into prison and commanded the jailer to keep them secure. The one who received the order took them into the inner prison and secured their feet in shackles. At about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God, and the prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake that caused the foundations of the prison to shake, and instantly all the doors opened and all the chains were thrown off. After the jailer woke up and saw the open doors of the prison, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, concluding that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice saying, “Do not harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer  called for lights and rushed in, and trembling he fell down before Paul and Silas. He then brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his household. And so he took them that very moment though it was night and washed their wounds, and immediately he and those with him were immersed for cleansing from sin. Then he brought them into his house and served food, and he rejoiced together with the entire household, having come to believe in God.

The Psalm
Psalm 97
God’s Justice Is Evidenced on Earth

God’s justice and power are reflected in a perfected world in which idolatry comes to an end, as all nations recognize the Lord’s singular might and glory.

  • 1. The Lord is king;
    let the earth rejoice!
    Let the many coastlands be glad!
  • 2. Clouds and storm clouds surround God;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s Throne.
  • 3. Fire goes before God,
    scorching God’s adversaries all around.
  • 4. God’s lightening illumined the world;
    the earth saw and quaked.
  • 5. Before the Lord, mountains melted like wax,
    before the Master of all the earth. 
  • 6. The heavens proclaimed God’s righteousness,
    and all the nations witnessed God’s glory.
  •  7. All who worship idols will be humiliated,
    those who boast of the gods.
    Bow down to him, all you gods!
  • 8. Zion heard and was glad;
    the daughters of Judah rejoiced,
    because of your just acts, Lord!
  • 9. For you, Lord, are Most High over all the earth,
    highly exalted over all the gods.
  • 10. Hate evil, all who love the Lord!
    He protects the lives of his pious ones.
    God rescues them from evil-doers.
  • 11. Light is sown for the righteous,
    and joy for the upright in heart.
  • 12. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
    giving thanks to God’s holy name.

The Second Reading
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
The Promise of Jesus’ Arrival

At its close, the book of Revelation states its purpose to be prophecy (compare Revelation 1:3). The author, John, appears personally, reinforcing the difference between angelic agents, who are not to be accorded worship (Revelation 22:8-9; see Revelation 19:10), and God, who is worthy of all worship. Unlike the scroll that was eaten (Revelation 10:4-11), this one is to remain unsealed and ready to be read, because its fulfillment is near. Jesus repeats his promise of the water of life (see Revelation 21:6), with the condition of necessary righteous action and also the warning that neither adding to nor subtracting from the words of the Revelation will be tolerated. These words of grace are humanity’s lifeline. They cannot be altered.

“Look—I, Jesus, am quickly arriving, and my reward is with me to give to each according to their deed! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the final purpose.” 

Those—martyrs—who wash their robes are favored, because they shall have the right to the tree of life and to enter by the gates into the city. 

“I, Jesus, have sent my messenger to witness these things to you concerning the congregations.
I am the root and race of David, the shining morning star.” 

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And whoever hears should say, “Come!” And whoever thirsts, who wishes to receive the water of life freely, should come.
The one who witnesses these things says, “Yes, I am quickly arriving.”
Amen—Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.

The Gospel
John 17:20-26
“So that They Might Be One Just as We Are One”

The theme that Jesus and the Father are one—and that their intent is that Jesus’ followers might also be one with one another and with God—is a particular emphasis of John’s Gospel. By having Jesus speak this prayer prior to the Crucifixion, John portrays Jesus’ actions prior to his death as entirely consistent with the reality of his presence after the Resurrection.

“I do not appeal for the committed students only, but also for those who believe because of the students’ word about me, so that all might be one: just as you are in me, Father, and I in you, that they also might be in us, so the world will believe that you commissioned me. The majestic glory that you have given me, I have also given to them, so that they might be one just as we are one: I in them and you in me, so that they might be as one, a completed whole. Thus the world will know that you commissioned me and that you also love them just as you love me.” 

Ascension of the Lord

The texts for this festival present several images that express the church’s understanding that God establishes cosmic rule through the risen Anointed One. The Ascension is portrayed in two accounts, both presented by Luke: the Gospel (Luke 24:44-53) and the first reading (Acts 1:1-11). The Gospel depicts Jesus’ departure from his followers after he interprets Scripture, highlighting his identity as the Anointed. He also commands the students to remain in Jerusalem until divine power comes upon them for a global mission. The more familiar scene in Acts stresses that Jesus was physically taken up into heaven in a cloud, giving proof that he will return to earth in the same way. Ephesians 1:15-23, in another image, articulates a view of the church as the Anointed’s body, while he is its heavenly head. The majesty of divine rule is celebrated in Psalm 47, while Psalm 93 stresses the justice of God’s reign, reflected in the statement at the end of the psalm that “God’s testimony is certain.”

The First Reading
Acts 1:1–11
Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven

As Jesus departs by physically ascending into heaven, the Apostles are promised that he will return and that the holy Spirit will empower them to be witnesses in the world. Luke addresses his description to a kind of ideal reader, whom he names “Theophilus,” or “lover of God.”

Dear Theophilus: The first volume I wrote concerned what Jesus began to do and also to teach, until the day he was taken up after he gave instructions by the holy Spirit to the Apostles whom he chose. To them he also presented himself alive after his suffering by way of many convincing proofs, appearing to them for forty days and speaking to them about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the Father’s promise, about which he said, “You heard from me, John was immersed with water but you will be immersed with the holy Spirit not many days from now.” So, those gathered together then asked him, “Master, are you now at this time restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority, but you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in both Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and as far as the ends of the earth.

After he said these things, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud carried him away out of their sight. And while they were staring toward heaven as he went—behold, two men in white clothing had been standing with them, and they said, “Galileans, why have you been standing staring toward heaven? This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way you saw him go into heaven.”

The Psalm
Psalm 47
God Rules over All the Nations

In the context of its lectionary use, the psalm’s images of the majesty of God’s rule over all nations depict the power and rule of the Anointed Jesus, referred to in Acts as extending “as far as the ends of the earth.”

  • For the leader, of the sons of Korach, a song.
  • 1. All nations—clap your hands!
    Raise a shout to God with a ringing cry!
  • 2. For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
    a great king over all the earth.
  • 3. God subdues nations under us,
    and peoples under our feet.
  • 4. God chose our inheritance for us,
    the pride of Jacob, God’s beloved.
    Selah!
  • 5. God has gone up on a shout of joy;
    the Lord, at the sound of a trumpet.
  • 6. Sing praises to God, sing praises.
    Sing praises to our God, sing praises.
  • 7. For God is king of all the earth.
    Sing praises to God with a psalm.
  • 8. God is king over the nations.
    God sits on God’s holy Throne.
  • 9. The princes of the nations gather,
    the people of the God of Abraham.
  • For the shields of the earth are God’s,
    God is highly exalted.

or Psalm 93
God Is King over All Creation

This enthronement psalm evokes the permanence of God’s power and reign over all creation, depicted in God’s defeat of the powers of chaos, which are reflected in the image of the pounding waters of the sea.

  • 1. God reigns,
    robed in majesty.
  • The Lord is robed,
    girded with might.
  • God established creation;
    it will not be shaken.
  • 2. Your Throne is established from the beginning;
    you are eternal.
  • 3. The flood waters have lifted up, Lord;
    the flood waters have lifted their voices.
    The flood waters lift their pounding waves.
  • 4. Greater than the thunder of mighty water,
    more majestic than the waves of the sea,
    the Lord is majestic on high.
  • 5. Your testimony is most certain;
    holiness befits your house,
    Lord, for the length of days.

The Second Reading
Ephesians 1:15-23
A Prayer for the Church as Jesus’ Presence in the World

This reading encourages the church with a portrayal of Jesus’ exaltation to the heavens, which is the “reason” for the author’s thanksgiving at the outset of the prayer. The church is then reminded of its divine calling to be the full, continued presence of the Anointed in the world.

For this reason, and also because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers: May the God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, enlightening the eyes of your heart so that you may know the hope of God’s call, the glorious abundance of God’s inheritance among the saints, and the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward us who believe according to the working of his great might. God worked in the Anointed, raising him from the dead and seating him at the heavenly place of honor far above all rule, authority, power, lordship, and every name invoked as an authority, not only in this age but also in the one to come. God placed everything in submission under him and gave him to be leader over all things for the church, which is his body, the full presence of the one who fills and completes all things.

The Gospel
Luke 24:44-53
Jesus’ Departure according to Luke’s Gospel

The final scene of Luke’s Gospel continues the theme developed in the Gospel’s narrative of Jesus’ encounter with two students who were traveling to Emmaus: the Scriptures of Israel attest the way of Jesus. Being in the presence of the Scriptures permits Jesus’ followers to be in his presence. He is so vividly with them that he can promise that God will clothe them with the power to witness the truth of Jesus, provided they wait in Jerusalem for the authorization to act as witnesses.

Jesus said to his followers, “These were my words that I spoke to you when I was still with you: that it was necessary for all the writings in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me to be fulfilled.” Then he opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “So it was written, that the Anointed will suffer and arise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for release of sins will be proclaimed to all the nations on the basis of his name—beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look—I am conferring the promise of my Father upon you, but you: Remain in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” He led them out to Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. And it happened while he blessed them, he separated from them and was carried up into heaven. They worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were constantly in the Temple blessing God.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Vision is not a unique interest of books such as the book of Revelation, but also features in Acts 16:9-15 as Paul’s motivation to bring his ministry to Greece. In Psalm 67, Israel celebrates the praise of God by those outside its community. John 14:23-29, for its part, reinforces Jesus’ love commandment from last Sunday. It also links the commandment to the gift of Spirit and the capacity of Spirit to teach in a way that includes Jesus’ words. Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5 continues from last week John of Patmos’ vision of the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem also provides a setting for this week’s alternative Gospel (John 5:1-9).

The First Reading
Acts 16:9–15
Paul’s Call to Macedonia

Following his sharp disagreement and subsequent break with Barnabas, Paul is set back on course by a vision of a man calling him to Macedonia. Paul concludes that God has called him to preach the gospel in Macedonia, and his witness to the Gentiles accordingly spreads into Greece.

A vision came to Paul in the night: a man from Macedonia was standing and calling to him, “Come to Macedonia and help us.” So when he saw the vision, we all immediately sought to go to Macedonia, agreeing together that God had called us to proclaim the message to them. After setting sail from Troas, we went straight to Samothrace and came upon the city of Neapolis and from there we went to Philippi, a colony which was the most prominent city of Macedonia. We remained in that city some days. Now on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate beside the river where we understood there to be place of prayer, and we sat down and were speaking to the women who gathered. A woman named Lydia of the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple cloth and a worshiper of God, was listening, and the Lord opened her heart so that she was responsive to what Paul was saying. So she and her household were immersed for cleansing. Then she pressed us, “If you have considered me to be faithful to the Lord, then come into my house and stay.” And so she persuaded us.

The Psalm
Psalm 67
The Bounty of the Earth is Evidence of God’s Blessing

The Lectionary’s choice to read this psalm together with the First Reading in Acts 16 casts it as a foundation for Paul’s call to bring his ministry to Greece. It serves this purpose insofar as it calls upon all people, including those who are not of Israel, to praise God.

  • For the director, with stringed instruments, a psalm, a song.
  • 1. God be gracious to us and bless us;
    God’s face shine upon us.
    Selah
  • 2. So shall your way be known upon the earth,
    your saving power among all the nations.
  • 3. The peoples shall praise you, God;
    all the peoples shall praise you.
  • 4. The nations shall rejoice and give a joyful cry,
    for you judge the peoples equitably,
    and guide the nations upon the land.
    Selah
  • 5. The peoples shall praise you, God;
    all the peoples shall praise you.
  • 6. The land has yielded its produce;
    May God, our God, continue to bless us.
  • 7. May God bless us;
    all the ends of the earth shall revere God.

The Second Reading
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
Worship and the Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem

The heavenly city that John of Patmos sees needs no physical temple, because the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple (Revelation 21:22). The dimensions of the new Jerusalem accommodate all the righteous, founded on stones that stand for the twelve Apostles (Revelation 21:14) and opening with gates that stand for the twelve tribes of Israel (Revelation 21:12). Here the tree of life is available and sheds its blessing (Revelation 22:2), so that what was once prohibited to humanity (Genesis 3:22-24) becomes freely accessible.

He bore me up in Spirit on a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven, from God…. And I saw no temple in her, because the Lord God, the All-Ruling, is her temple, and the Lamb. The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on her, since the glory of God provides her light, and her lamp is the Lamb. All the nations shall walk by her light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory to her. Her gates are not closed by day, and there will be no night there, so they will bear the glory and the honor of the nations to her. Anything unclean and anyone performing pollution and deceit shall not enter into her—only those written in the scroll of life of the Lamb.

And he showed me the river of living water, gleaming as crystal, which flows out from the Throne of God and the Lamb. In the midst of the city’s center, extending across the river, the tree of life makes twelve harvests, each yielding its own harvest, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. There shall no longer be a curse: God’s Throne and the Lamb will be in her, and his servants will attend him, and they shall see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There shall no longer be night, and they have no need of lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will provide them light, and they will rule forever.

The Gospel
John 14:23-29
The Promise of the Holy Spirit

As the community of John’s Gospel wrestled with their experience of Jesus’ death and absence, the words of the Gospel encourage faith that living in the reality that Jesus embodied makes Jesus present among them. That reality is included in Jesus’ teaching, his words, but also goes beyond them; thus the author could use both the singular “logos” (reality) and the plural “logous” (words) to convey their relationship. The idea that God is known in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—though fully developed only after the biblical period, appears here in a narrative form, as John seeks to undergird the community’s devotion to Israel’s God, its embrace of Jesus as Master, and its continuing experience of divine revelation and insight.

Jesus answered his student, “Anyone who loves me will embrace the reality that I embody; my Father shall love that person and we shall come and make a home with that person. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. Yet the reality that you see me embody is not mine alone, but also my Father’s, who sent me. I have spoken these things to you while with you: the Father will send the advocate in my name—the holy Spirit—who will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I said to you. Peace I leave you, my peace I give you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Your heart shall not be troubled nor afraid. You heard that I said to you, ‘I depart, and come to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice because I make way to the Father, since the Father is greater than I. Now I have spoken to you before it happens, so that when it happens you can believe.”

or John 5:1-9
The Healing of a Person Unable to Walk

In John’s Gospel, the presence of a timeless reality embodied by Jesus renders history and sequence secondary. Throughout his ministry, Jesus moves seamlessly between an earthly present and a transcendent reality. So at this unnamed festival time in Jerusalem, the healing of the nations that is promised for the age to come becomes real in the life of one man.

After this there was a feast of the Judeans and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate, at a reservoir having five porticos—called in Aramaic Bethzatha—lay masses of those who were ill, blind, unable to walk, paralyzed. One man there had been ill for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him lying and knew that he had been there a very long time. He said to him, “Do you want to become healthy?” The ill man answered him, “Master, I have no one to put me in the reservoir while the water is churning; so when I finally get there, another has gotten in before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take your stuff, and walk.” And at once the man became healthy and took his stuff and walked.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

John emphasizes Jesus’ eternal “glory”—his incorporation within the majesty of God. Jesus’ identification with God is so complete that even his coming death and departure is seen as glorification (John 13:31-35). The sign of that process on earth is the love he commands his followers to have for one another. The reading from Acts marks the momentous insight of Peter, guided by the Spirit, that even those outside the traditional definition of the people of God were to be included in the circle of Jesus’ followers. The cosmic range of God’s action, celebrated in Psalm 148, is to be imitated by the church, seen in a vision by John of Patmos as the “new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:1-6).

The First Reading
Acts 11:1–18
A Report by Rock—Peter—to the Believers in Jerusalem

After the immersion of Cornelius and his household, RockPeterreturns to Jerusalem and reports his experience to the Apostles and the rest of the believers. Rock’s experiences of his visions of God’s declaration of cleanliness and of the holy Spirit’s coming upon Cornelius and his household lead him to the astonishing conclusion that God was now including Gentiles within the community of Jesus’ followers and granting them repentance.

The Apostles and the kindred followers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also received the message of God. So when Rock—Peter—came up to Jerusalem, those who were of the circumcision group criticized him, “You went among uncircumcised people and ate with them!” So Rock began to explain to them the sequence of events: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great linen cloth was coming down, being dropped down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. As I was looking at it, I saw four-footed animals, beasts, reptiles, and birds of the sky. I even heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise up, Rock; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing base or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ Then the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has declared clean, don’t you go on treating as base.’”
“This happened three times, then everything was drawn up again into heaven. Just then, three men arrived at the house where we were, having been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit said to me, ‘Don’t judge! Go with them!’ So, they went with me, as well as these six brothers, and we entered into the man’s house. He declared to us how he saw an angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Rock; he will proclaim a message to you by which you will be saved, you and your whole household.’ Then as I began to speak, the holy Spirit came upon them just as upon us in the beginning. I was reminded of the Master’s word, how he said, ‘John immersed in water, but you will be immersed in the holy Spirit.’ Therefore, if God gave the same gift to them as to us who believe in the Anointed Master Jesus, who am I to stand against God?” Now after hearing these things, they stopped criticizing and began to glorify God: “Then to the Gentiles as well has God granted repentance resulting in eternal life!”

The Psalm
Psalm 148
All Creation Must Praise God, Lord of All Creation

The entire range of God’s cosmic creation owes God praise. This creation is what Peter saw in his vision of the great cloth that dropped down from heaven by its four corners and revealed four-footed animals, beasts, reptiles, and birds of the sky. The suggestion is that the church must imitate the praise called for in this psalm. Such praise leads God to empower his people, which the psalm expresses with the metaphor of their “horn” being exalted.

  • 1. Praise Yah!
  • Praise the Lord from the heavens;
  • praise God in the heights.
  • 2. Praise God, all God’s messengers;
    praise God, all divine armies.
  • 3. Praise God, sun and moon;
    praise God, all the stars of morning light.
  • 4. Praise God, you highest heavens,
    and you waters that are above the heavens.
  • 5. Let them praise the Lord’s name,
    for God commanded and they were created.
  • 6. God established them for eternity;
    God set their boundaries, which no one can violate.
  • 7. Praise God from the earth:
    the sea monsters and all the ocean depths,
  • 8.          fire and hail, snow and storm clouds,
    the raging wind fulfilling God’s will
  • 9. The mountains and all the hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars.
  • 10. Wild animals and all beasts,
    creeping things and winged birds.
  • 11. Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all the land’s rulers.
  • 12. Young men and also young women,
    the old along with the youth—
  • 13. Let them praise the Lord’s name,
    for God’s name alone is exalted.
  • God’s majesty is upon the earth and heaven!
  • 14. God has raised a horn for God’s people;
    praise for all these faithful,
    for the people of Israel, the people who are close to God.
    Praise Yah!

The Second Reading
Revelation 21:1-6
Vision of a New Heaven and New Earth

John of Patmos sees a new heaven and new earth (in language inspired by Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22), which host the advent of a new Jerusalem. The city is adorned as a bride, and accommodates the people of God and offers the spring of the water of life (verse 6, also referenced in John 4:14), and evenin fulfillment of the promise in Revelation 2:6the tree of life (22:2), because this is the place of God’s servants alone.

I saw new heaven and new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had departed, and the sea was no more. And the holy city, new Jerusalem, I saw descending out of heaven, from God, prepared and adorned as a bride for her husband. I heard a great voice from the Throne:

“Look, the dwelling of God is with humanity,
and he will shelter with them,
and they will be his people—
and God himself will be their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and there shall no longer be death or mourning
or outcry or pain, because the former things have departed.”

  • The one who sits upon the Throne said, “Look, I will make everything new.”
    He said: “Write, because these words are trustworthy and true.”
  • He said to me:
    “It has happened. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To one
    who thirsts, I will freely grant the fountain of the water of life.”

The Gospel
John 13:31-35
Jesus Commands to Love in his Absence

The community of John’s Gospel presents Jesus’ death and departure as a glorification. To prepare for Jesus’ absence from the committed disciples and the later community of John’s Gospel, he encourages them to continue acting as witnesses by loving one another. In this way, they can continue to experience Jesus’ presence in the community.

When he went outside, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him. God will glorify him in himself, and will at once glorify him. Children, yet a little while I am with you: you will seek me, and just as I told the Judeans—‘Where I depart you are not able to come’—I tell you also now. A new command I give you, that you love one another: just as I loved you, you love one another. By this all shall know that you are my committed students, if you have love amongst yourselves.”

Fourth Sunday of Easter

John’s Gospel has been known since the second century as “the spiritual Gospel.” One of the features that earns it that reputation is that John weaves the insights that stem from Jesus’ resurrection into the narrative account of Jesus’ activity, even before the Crucifixion. In this case, John 10:22-30 addresses the issue of the “sheep” of Jesus, the same group he expressed concern for last Sunday in the context of a Resurrection appearance. Their identity as gathered around the Lamb is portrayed in visionary terms in Revelation 7:9-17. That perspective gives new meaning to Psalm 23, which the Lectionary appoints for today. Last Sunday’s readings also introduce the focus on Peter in today’s reading—Acts 9:36-43—where he takes up a ministry of healing comparable to that of Jesus.

The First Reading
Acts 9:36–43
Continued Witness by Rock—Peter—through the Ministry of Healing

As the witness to Jesus continues in the book of Acts, RockPeteris called upon to help after the death of a committed student, named Tabitha. Parallel to Jesus’ healing ministry (Mark 5:35-43), Rock prays over Tabitha, and she returns to life. As the news of Tabitha’s healing spreads, many throughout the region of Joppa believe in the Lord.

In Joppa, there was a committed student named Tabitha, which when translated is Dorcas (“gazelle”). She was known for good works and charity to the poor. In those days she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Now since Lydda was near Joppa, when the students heard that Rock—Peter—was there, they sent two men to him, urging him, “Do not hesitate to come to us.” So Rock rose up and went with them. When he arrived, they took him into the upper room, and all the widows stood by him, crying and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas was making when she was with them. Then Rock pushed them all out. He went down on his knees and prayed while turning to the body; he said, “Tabitha, arise.” She opened her eyes, and when she saw Rock, she sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the holy community along with the widows, he presented her alive. It then became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And so, he stayed some days with a certain Simon, a tanner.

The Psalm
Psalm 23
God Protects Us as a Shepherd in Dark Times

Psalm 23 portrays God as a shepherd who protects the flock even in the darkest times. The image of God as shepherd connects this passage to the reading from John, which is today’s Gospel, in which Jesus refers to his followers as sheep to whom, because they hear his voice, he gives eternal life. This psalm’s reference to the fearlessness of the psalmist, even when traversing “a valley as dark as death,” hints at the idea of escape from death.

  • 1. A song of David.
    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
  • 2. God lies me down in grassy meadows;
    to still watering places, God guides me.
  • 3. God refreshes my soul.
    God directs me in the ways of righteousness,
    for the sake of God’s name.
  • 4. Even when I walk in a valley as dark as death,
    I fear no evil,
    for you are with me.
    Your rod and your staff comfort me.
  • 5. You prepare before me a table in the presence of my enemies.
    You have anointed my head with oil.
    My cup overflows.
  • 6. Yes! Goodness and kindness will pursue me,
    all the days of my life.
  • And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    for the length of my days.

The Second Reading
Revelation 7:9-17
Vision of Those Who Are Saved

In the sequence of the visions of John of Patmos, four angels are commanded to prevent all harm to God’s servants who are marked with a seal. The number of those sealed comes to 144,000:12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8). A numberless host from the nations now supplements the 144,000, all of whom shout out with the heavenly court to praise the one seated on the Throne as well as the Lamb. Clothed in white robes, they are drawn close to the Throne and its shelter, having purified themselves in the blood of the Lamb.

After this I saw, and look—a massive throng that no one could number, from every nation: clans, peoples, and tongues. They stood before the Throne and before the Lamb clothed in white robes and with palm branches in their hands. And they cried in a great voice:

“Redemption belongs to our God,
to the one seated upon the Throne
and to the Lamb.”

All the messengers stood around the Throne, as well as the elders and the four living animals, and they prostrated before the Throne and worshipped God:

“Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor and power
and strength belong to our God forever. Amen.”

One of the elders asked me, “Who are those clothed in white robes, and where do they come from?” I answer him, “My Master, you know.” He said:

“They come from the great tribulation;
they washed their robes
and whitened them in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before God’s Throne
and attend him day and night in his temple.
And the one who sits upon the Throne will shelter over them;
they will neither hunger nor thirst,
neither sun nor any burning will fall on them,
because the Lamb in the midst of the Throne
will shepherd them and guide them
to fountains of living water.
God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.”

The Gospel
John 10:22-30
Jesus in Jerusalem at Hanukkah

The Renewal Feast—Hanukkah—in Jerusalem celebrated the restoration of the Jerusalem Temple after its defilement by foreign forces in the period of the Maccabees (164 BCE). John’s Gospel makes this celebration the occasion for a dispute between Jesus and other Jews. In this case, local Judeans question his status as the Anointed. Jesus answers, speaking of who truly is part of the flock that God is gathering out of the world. In the mysterious claim of being one with “the Father,” Jesus proclaims himself a renewed and restored temple, the place where people encounter God. Written after the year 70 CE, at a time when the Jerusalem Temple again lay in ruins so that no one could realistically seek God there, the Gospel undergirds the faith of an early Jesus community.

Then came the Renewal Feast in Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the Temple in the portico of Solomon. The Judeans circled him and said to him, “How long will you distress our soul? If you are the Anointed, tell us in public.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you don’t believe! The deeds that I do in the name of my Father, they bear witness concerning me, but you do not believe, because you are not from my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me; I give them eternal life and they will never perish and no one will take them from my hand. My Father gave them to me; he is greater than all and no one is able to take from the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Third Sunday of Easter

Although John’s Gospel appeared to reach its climax last Sunday when, in Jerusalem, the risen Jesus praised the faith that requires no physical proof, an entire chapter follows that is dedicated to Jesus’ manifesting himself by the Sea of Galilee. Peter appears at the center of interest within the lection (John 21:1-19), so that he can be restored as a representative of Jesus after he had denied his association with Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion. As Peter’s denial occurred three times, so Jesus presses Peter three times as he gives him the care of his flock. The setting of a meal and a miraculous catch of fish alludes to the Eucharistic context in which the account finds its natural place. The reading from Acts recounts Paul’s first encounter with Jesus in a manner that presents the Resurrection along the lines of a call of a prophet, while Revelation 5:11-14 presents the living Jesus in an unmistakably visionary and prophetic way.

The First Reading
Acts 9:1–6 [7-20]
Saul’s Vision of the Risen Jesus

While traveling to Damascus to persecute those in the community known as the Way of Jesus by arresting some of the them, Saul has a vision. In a flash of light, he hears the voice of Jesus confronting him for his efforts at persecution. The appearance of Jesus leaves Saul blind and in need of assistance. Then in a vision Jesus directs Ananias, one of his committed students, to lay hands on Saul to return his sight. The regaining of his physical sight parallels Saul’s new insight and callwith his name significantly changed to Paulas God’s instrument to proclaim the name of Jesus.

Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the committed students of the Lord, went to the High Priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus for the purpose that, if he found anyone belonging to the Way, men and even women, he could tie them up and lead them to Jerusalem. Now as he was going, he came near to Damascus, and suddenly a light flashed around him from heaven. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you chasing me down?” So he asked, “Master, who are you?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are chasing. Even so, get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

[The men traveling with Saul stood speechless, because they heard something but saw no one. Saul rose up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he saw nothing. So, they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he couldn’t see, and he neither ate nor drank. Now, there was a certain committed student in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.” He said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and in the house of Judas look for a man named Saul from Tarsus. He is praying, and he envisions a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so that he will see again.” But Ananias said, “Lord, I heard from many about this man, about how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. Even here, he has authority from the high priests to arrest all of those who call upon your name.” Still, the Lord said to him, “Go. This man is a chosen instrument for my purpose to carry my name before both nations and kings and the people of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” So Ananias left and went into the house. He laid hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me so that you can see again and be filled with the holy Spirit. Then immediately something like scales fell from his eyes. He both regained his sight and arose to be immersed for cleansing; then, taking food, he was strengthened. He then stayed some days with the committed students in Damascus and immediately was proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “He is the Son of God.”]

The Psalm
Psalm 30
A Psalm of Thanks for Healing

The theme of God’s healing and having metaphorically lifted the psalmist from the grave accounts for its relevance and expressive power in describing the context of divine salvation that explains Jesus’ own resurrection.

A psalm, a song for the dedication of the Temple, of David.

  • 1. I will exalt you, Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
  • 2. Lord, my God, I cried out to you and you healed me.
  • 3. Lord, you lifted me from the grave;
    you kept me in life, away from those who go down to the Pit.
  • 4. Praise the Lord in song, God’s faithful;
    give thanks to God’s holy name.
  • 5. For God’s anger lasts but a moment,
    while God’s favor lasts a lifetime.
  • Crying endures only a night,
    but joy appears with the morning.
  • 6. As for me, I said with confidence, “I shall never be shaken.”
  • 7. Lord, in accordance with your will,
    you established me as a strong mountain.
  • You hid your face!
    I was disquieted!
  • 8. To you, Lord, I called out.
    From my Lord I sought favor.
  • 9. What profit is there in my blood,
    in my descent into the Pit?
  • Will the dust thank you?
    Will it tell of your truth?
  • 10. Hear, Lord, and be compassionate with me!
    Lord! Be my help!
  • 11. You turned my wailing into jubilant dance;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me in joy.
  • 12. So that my heart might sing your praises and not be silent,
    Lord, my God, I shall thank you forever.

The Second Reading
Revelation 5:11-14
A Vision of the Lamb and God’s Throne

The context of this passage is John’s vision of a book at the right hand of God, sealed up with seven seals (Revelation 5:1-5). An elder by the Throne assures John of Patmos that the lion of the tribe of Judah has triumphed, so that he is able to open the seals. The “lion” of whom the elder speaks, however, appears in the midst of the Throne as a Lamb, which seems to have been slain. The living creatures and elders take up a song in his praise (5:6-10). He is worthy to open the seals because he has been slain and has presented a people to God. The song dedicated to the Lamb echoes throughout heaven and earth.

  • I saw, and I heard—the sound
    of many divine messengers around the Throne
    and the living animals and the elders.
  • And their number reached myriads upon myriads, thousands upon thousands; they said in a
  • thunderous voice:
    Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
    to take power and wealth and wisdom
    and strength and honor and glory and blessing.
  • Every single creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, indeed all that is
  • in them—these I heard saying:
    To the one who is seated upon the Throne and to the Lamb
    belong blessing and honor and glory and power forever.
  • And the four living animals said, “Amen,” and the elders bowed low and worshipped.

The Gospel
John 21:1-19
Jesus Appears by the Sea of Tiberias

John’s Gospel carries the story beyond the Resurrection in a scene that alludes richly to both Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and the church’s mission to become a community of faith and mutual care. The three denials by RockPeterabout even knowing Jesus find their counterpart in three affirmations of love and loyalty. The risen Master elicits these affirmations through probing questions, leading to the mandate that Peter care for those gathered in Jesus’ name, as God’s flock.

Later Jesus revealed himself again to the committed students by the Sea of Tiberias, and he appeared in this way: Simon Rock—Peter—and Thomas called Twin and Nathaniel from Cana of Galilee and the Zebedees and two others of his students were together. Simon Rock said to them, “I am going to fish.” They said to him, “We are going along with you.” They went out and got on board the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But by this time, as it became early, Jesus stood by the shore, although the students did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, don’t you have any food?” They answered him, “No.” But he said to them, “Throw the net to the right of the boat, and you will find fish.” So they threw it, and because of the quantity of fish caught they weren’t strong enough to haul the net by hand. So, that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Rock, “It is the Master.” Simon Rock, hearing that it was the Master, then tied his overgarment around himself, because he was naked, and threw himself into the sea. The other students came in the boat, because they were not far from the land—only about a hundred yards—dragging the net of fish. When they got off on the land they saw a charcoal fire set and fish arranged and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring in from the fish you now caught.” So Simon Rock went up and hauled the net onto the land full of big fish—153—and although there were so many the net did not split. Jesus said to them, “Come on, eat breakfast.” But none of the students dared to confirm with him—“Who are you?”—knowing that he was the Master. Jesus came and took the bread and gave to them, and then gave the fish in the same way. This was already the third time Jesus was revealed to the students, raised from the dead. When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Rock, “Simon of John, do you love me more than anyone?” He said to him, “Yes, Master: you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Herd my lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Master: you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Shepherd my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon of John, do you love me?” Rock was grieved that he had said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Master, you know everything: you recognize that I love you.”  He said to him, “Herd my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were a youth, you tied your own clothes and walked where you wished, but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hand and another will tie you and carry you where you do not wish.” Saying this he signaled the sort of death by which he would glorify God. With that he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

Second Sunday of Easter

The promise within John’s Gospel to Mary Magdalene on Easter Day was for further contact with Jesus, and the Gospel reading selected for this Sunday—John 20:19-31—fulfills that promise. Becoming present in a room with locked doors, Jesus breathes into his closest students, giving them Spirit so that they might engage in a dedicated practice of forgiving sin. The famous incident with Thomas is widely misinterpreted, probably as a result of Renaissance art that depicts Thomas touching Jesus’ wounds. In the account itself, however, Jesus’ presence is enough to make Thomas believe. Jesus then insists that the point of his being raised from the dead is to demonstrate that belief comes from insight, rather than from physical contact or even seeing. The psalms of the day—118:14-29 and 150—present faith in its strong relationship to the praise of God, while Acts 5:27–32 portrays praise as an irresistible impulse, even under duress, as a result of the Spirit’s support. During the season of Easter, readings from Acts regularly take the place usually occupied by the Scriptures of Israel. In today’s readings and on several occasions during Easter, a reading from the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:4-8) takes the place of the Epistle, in this case because it is written as a letter from Jesus, “firstborn of the dead.”

The First Reading
Acts 5:27–32
The Apostles’ Appearance Before the Supreme Council of the Judeans

In this reading from the book of Acts, the theme of witnessing to God’s raising and exaltation of Jesus continues with Rock—Peter—and the Apostles’ obedience before the Supreme Council (the Sanhedrin) of the Judeans. Empowered by the Spirit, their witness encourages obedience to the God of Israel who exalted Jesus for the people of Israel.

When they brought the Apostles, they stood them before the Supreme Council of the Judeans. The High Priest interrogated them: “We gave you a direct order not to teach in this name, and yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, intending to make us guilty for this man’s blood.” In response Rock—Peter—and the Apostles said, “It is necessary to obey God rather than people. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. This man God exalted to God’s own right hand as sovereign and savior to give to Israel repentance and release from sins. We are witnesses to these things, as also is the holy Spirit, which God gave to those who obey.”

The Psalm
Psalm 118:14-29
Thanksgiving for Victory Brought About by God

This psalm of victory perhaps originally celebrated the Israelites’ return from the Babylonian exile. It is rich in allusions that are given new meaning by the Easter season: “I did not die but live” (verse 17); “The rock the builders rejected” (verse 22); and, overall, that of the Lord’s gate through which the righteous will enter (verse 20). The “horns of the altar” (verse 27) refers to horn-like projections at each corner of the Jerusalem Temple’s sacrificial altar. This feature of the altar is as required in the altar’s construction in Exodus 27:2.

  • 14. Yah is my strength and my rescue;

God has become my victory.

  • 15. A sound of joy and victory is in the tents of the righteous!

The right arm of the Lord performed mighty acts;

  • 16. The right arm of God is exalted;

The right arm of the Lord performed mighty acts.

  • 17. I did not die but live,

and I will recount the acts of Yah!

  • 18. Yah has certainly chastened me,

but God did not hand me over to death.

  • 19. Open for me the gates of the righteous; 

I shall enter them giving thanks to Yah.

  • 20. This is the Lord’s gate;

only the righteous shall enter it.

  • 21. I thank you, for you have answered me; 

you have become my victory

  • 22. The rock the builders rejected has become the cornerstone!
  • 23. This is from the Lord; 

it is extraordinary in our eyes.

  • 24. This is the day the Lord brought about; 

let us rejoice and celebrate on it.

  • 25. Please, Lord, rescue us! 

Please, Lord, cause us to prosper!

  • 26. May all who enter be blessed in the name of the Lord!

We bless you all from the house of the Lord.

  • 27. The Lord is God and gives us light;

tie up the festival offering with cords; 

bring it to the horns of the altar!

  • 28. You are my God, and I shall thank you; 

my God, and I shall exalt you.

  • 29. Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good:

God’s steadfast love is eternal!

or Psalm 150
The Lord Deserves Our Praise

The book of Psalms ends with this declaration of God’s mighty deeds for which we owe praise and thanksgiving.

  • 1. Praise Yah!

            Praise God in God’s sanctuary;

            praise God in the firmament of God’s strength.

  • 2. Praise God for God’s mighty deeds;

            praise God in harmony with God’s abundant greatness.

  • 3. Praise God with a blast of the trumpet;

            praise God with lute and lyre.

  • 4. Praise God with timbrel and joyous dance;

            praise God with strings and flute.

  • 5. Praise God with loud cymbals;

            praise God with a crash of cymbals.

  • 6. Let all that breathe praise Yah!

            Praise Yah!

The Second Reading
Revelation 1:4-8
Jesus the “Firstborn of the Dead and Ruler of the Kings of the Earth”

In this reading, John of Patmos, speaking as a prophet, formally addresses seven assemblies (or churches), explaining that he speaks on behalf of God enthroned in heaven, before whom seven spirits dwell (Zechariah 3:1-9). Paired with God, Jesus appears as firstborn of the dead, as well as the faithful witness who releases people from their sins and makes them a kingdom and priests to God. His coming in judgement is fearful (compare Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10-11), accounting for the urgency of the message. God himself speaks at the close; he is is the Alpha and Omega, who was, is, and is to come (Isaiah 41:4; 44:6).

John, to seven congregations in Asia: 

Grace to you and peace! From the one who is and was and is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before his Throne, and from the Anointed Jesus, the witness who is trustworthy, firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to God, his Father: to him, give glory and power forever. Amen.
Look, he comes with the clouds,
and every eye shall see him,
even such as pierced him,
and all the clans of the earth shall mourn him. 

Yes: Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” the Lord God replies, “who is and was and is to come, the All-Ruling.”

The Gospel
John 20:19-31
The Committed Students See Their Risen Master

The Gospel of John underscores the power of its own witness to bring people to belief in Jesus and to the life that he offers. Those who first see their risen Master on Easter evening recognize him by his wounds. Thomas seeks the same evidence, but—like Mary Magdalene—recognizes Jesus in the personal encounter of being known by him. Then the Gospel draws its hearers into the story by having Jesus call them “favored,” favored with belief even when we have not seen him.

When it was evening on that first day after Sabbath and the doors were shut where the committed students were on account of their fear of the “Judeans,” Jesus came. He stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace to you.” Having said this, he showed them his hands and side. Then the students rejoiced, having seen the Master. Then Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you: just as the Father delegated me, I also send you.” Having said this he breathed into them and said, “Take holy Spirit: whose sins you release are released for them; whose sins you hold are held against them.” 

Yet Thomas, one from the Twelve called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. Then the other students were saying to him, “We have seen the Master.” But he said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and thrust my finger in the mark of the nails and thrust my hand into his side, I shall not believe.” After eight days Jesus’ students were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came while the doors were shut and stood in their midst and said, “Peace to you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and thrust it into my side. Do not be faithless, but faithful.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Master and my God.” Jesus said, “Because you saw me, you have believed? Those are favored who have not seen, and believe.” Then Jesus did many other signs before the students that are not written in this scroll, but these are written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Anointed, the Son of God, and so that, believing, you might have life in his name.

Easter Evening

For Easter evening, the Lectionary appoints the unique account in Luke’s Gospel of how Jesus joined in an evening meal with Cleopas and an unnamed companion. Jesus’ opening of the meal in the inn is strongly reminiscent of what he did in his Last Supper, so that the celebration of the Eucharist emerges as an occasion for recognizing his risen presence. Yet the emphasis of the account falls even more strongly on the interpretation of Scripture: how Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms map Jesus’ trajectory as the Anointed of God. It is fitting, then, that the evening’s reading from the book of Isaiah voices an early prophetic hope of resurrection. The Resurrection is seen reflected even in the Passover through the reading of Psalm 114 in the light of Jesus’ presence (1 Corinthians 5:6b-8).

The First Reading
Isaiah 25:6-9
God’s Promises Are Universal

The earliest prophecies in the book of Isaiah were composed during the eighth century BCE and underwent several expansions, owing to its wide usage. The last part of the book of Isaiah as it stands (chapters 56-66) reflects a period of keen anticipation of God’s inclusion of all peoples within a newly restored Temple: a restoration that occurred towards the end of the sixth century BCE. This passage from chapter 25 reflects the same period, the same prophetic assurance, and an emerging interpretation that the promises of God are universal.

  • 6. The Lord of angelic armies will make for all peoples on this mountain
    a feast of fat animals, a feast of good wine—
    fat animals full of marrow and refined good wine.
  • 7. He will swallow up on this mountain
    the cover that covers all peoples
    and the veil that veils all nations.
  • 8. He shall swallow up death forever
    and the masterful Lord will wipe away tears from the all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will remove from the earth,
  • because the Lord has spoken.

The Psalm
Psalm 114
In the Exodus and Conquest of the Land, Nature Recognized God’s Power

Psalm 114 reflects on God’s divine power and the victories it facilitates in times of the greatest need, such as during the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. In this reading, this past victory connects to the one celebrated today, when God, in the body of Jesus, conquers even death.


  • 1. When the people of Israel left Egypt,
    the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
  • 2. the territory of Judah became God’s sanctuary;
    the territory of Israel, God’s realm.
  • 3. The sea saw and fled;
    the Jordan River reversed course.
  • 4. The mountains skipped like rams;
    the hills, like sheep.
  • 5. Why is it, sea, that you fled?
    Jordan, that you reversed course?
  • 6. Mountains, that you skipped like rams?
    Hills, like sheep?
  • 7. Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
    at the presence of the God of Jacob,
  • 8. who turned the rock into a pool of water,
    flint into a fountain of water.

The Second Reading
1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
Jesus as Paschal Lamb

Jesus died near the time of Passover, so that early believers came to call the celebration of his being raised from the dead their Pascha (the Aramaic term for “Passover”). Because Paul was dedicated to the view that believers should look to the Anointed as the example of their own resurrection (as in this morning’s reading from 1 Corinthians), he here lingers on the comparison of Jesus’ offering to the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb, and relates the removal of yeast from Israelite households at Passover to the purging of immorality from the communities in Corinth.

Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Cleanse out the old yeast, in order that you can be new dough, just as you are unleavened: because the Anointed, our Passover, has been sacrificed for us.

The Gospel
Luke 24:13-49
The Risen Jesus Appears Near Emmaus

On Easter afternoon and evening, as the Gospel according to Luke tells it, those who mourned Jesus as dead experienced his living presence in various ways. In an inspiring encounter, two of them found meaning in their tragic experience through a reading of biblical Israel’s Prophets interpreted by Jesus himself. They went on to recognize Jesus in the new meal shared by a community of his followers. Others believed a report from Simon, and all became witnesses of his resurrected body in their gathering. Their testimony carried forward insights into Israel’s Scriptures that sprang from the story of Jesus’ life and death, becoming a divine commission to preach repentance for the release of sins.

And look: two of them on the same day [the day the tomb had been found empty] went to a village lying seven and a half miles from Jerusalem, named Emmaus. They were conversing with one another concerning all the things that had transpired. It happened while they conversed and argued that Jesus himself approached to go with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. He said to them, “What are these things that you are tossing around at one another as you walk?” And they stood, heartsick. One—Cleopas by name—answered him, “Are you the only person in all Jerusalem who doesn’t know what happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What sort of things?” But they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazirite, who was a man of prophecy, powerful in deed and in word before God and all the people: how our high priests and leaders handed him to a sentence of death—and crucified him. We had hoped that he was about to redeem Israel, but at all events, this is the third day since these things happened. Some women from our group also stunned us: having been at the tomb in the morning, and not finding his body, they came to tell us they had even seen a vision of angels who said that he lives. And some of those with us went away to the tomb, and found it so, just as the women had said, and they did not see him either.” He said to them, “How dense! So slow to believe in all that the prophets spoke. Wasn’t it necessary for the Anointed to suffer, and enter into his glory?” And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them by all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.And they neared the village where they were going, and he made as if to travel on. But they prevailed on him, saying, “Stay with us, because it is toward evening and the day has already declined.” And he went in to stay with them. And it happened, when he reclined with them, that he took the bread, blessed, broke, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened up, and they recognized him—and he vanished from them. They said to one another, “Wasn’t something kindled in us when he was speaking to us on the way, as he opened up the Scriptures to us?” They arose in the same hour and returned to Jerusalem. They found assembled the Eleven and those with them, who said, “The Master has in fact been raised, and was seen by Simon.” So they explained the things that happened on the way and how he had become known to them in the breaking of the bread.

While they were speaking of these things, he himself stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace to you.” Shocked and frightened, they thought they perceived a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you shaken, and for what reason are you confused? See my hands and my feet, that I am myself. Take hold of me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bone, which you see I have.” In their joy and amazement they could not believe it, so he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat here?” They gave him a portion of cooked fish. He took and ate in front of them.

Then he said to them, “These were my words that I spoke to you when I was still with you: that it was necessary for everything written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me to be fulfilled.” Then he opened up their mind to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “So it was written, for the Anointed to suffer and to arise from the dead on the third day, and for repentance for release of sins in his name to be proclaimed to all the nations—beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look: I confer the promise of my Father upon you, yet remain in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Resurrection of the Lord

Jesus’ victory over the grave is remembered every Sunday during the year; that is why worship occurs on that day. The weeks between Easter and Pentecost mark an entire season to recollect and reflect upon resurrection within the calendar of Christianity. The readings of each week articulate specific ways of understanding how Jesus was raised from the dead, and to varying degrees they also relate his resurrection to how each believer can anticipate eternal life with God.

Easter Day itself, then, does not stand alone as a festival. It is the primary celebration of the year, but it functions as the entry into pondering and experiencing Jesus’ resurrection. For that reason, the early-morning visit to Jesus’ tomb is the focus of the day. In all the accounts in the Gospels, despite significant differences from one to another, the purpose of the narrative is to point Jesus’ followers from the place of burial and towards where he will be experienced as alive. Encounters with Jesus are promised in John 20:1-18, and the reality of those encounters features centrally in Acts’ record of the earliest preaching in Jesus’ name. The expectation that God can and will effect unanticipated redemption forms one basis of hope in the Resurrection, which the Scriptures of Israel support in existential (Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24) as well as collective and cosmic terms (Isaiah 65:17-25).

The First Reading
Acts 10:34-43
The Power of the Gospel for All Who Believe

The book of Acts portrays how the earliest preaching bore witness to Jesus’ resurrection and proclaimed the cleansing of sins for all people who believe. In recounting the message of God’s anointing of Jesus, Rock—Peter—begins with John’s immersion of repentance for the cleansing of sins, continues through Jesus’ ministry of healing and doing good, and culminates in the appearance of Jesus to the witnesses after his death. Here, Rock’s realization of God’s acceptance of all people augments the message in Jesus’ name first delivered to the people of Israel.

Rock—Peter—opened his mouth and said, “In truth, I understand that God is not one who shows favoritism, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does righteousness is acceptable to him. In reference to the message that he sent to the people of Israel proclaiming peace through the Anointed Jesus––this one is Lord of all: you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the immersion of repentance for cleansing of sins  proclaimed by John. You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power––who then went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. So we are witnesses of all that he did in the region of the Judeans and in Jerusalem. The one they killed by hanging him on a tree—this one God raised on the third day and caused to appear, not to all the people, but to witnesses who had been chosen beforehand by God, to us who ate and drank with him after he arose from the dead. He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness: all who believe in him receive cleansing from sins through his name.

or Isaiah 65:17-25
God’s Creation of an Ideal World

The book of Isaiah envisions a new and perfect world, in which there is no longer suffering and distress. In this world people experience long life and plenty. The book of Isaiah, however, notably envisions neither resurrection of the dead nor the eternal life of those now born.

  • 17. For now I am creating a new heaven and a new earth
    —those originally created will not be remembered
    nor come to mind.
  • 18. Even so, rejoice and be glad forever that I create,
    because now I am creating Jerusalem to be a joy and her people to be a delight.
  • 19. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people.
    Neither the sound of weeping nor a cry of distress will be heard there again.
  • 20. Never again will a suckling baby there live just a few days,
    or an old person not live out the fullness of days.
    For one who dies at a hundred will be thought of as a youth,
    and one who falls short of a hundred years will be considered cursed.
  • 21. They will build houses and dwell in them,
    and plant vineyards and consume their fruit.
  • 22. They will not build and another inhabit.
    They will not plant and another eat.
    For the days of my people will be like the days of a tree,
    and the work of their hands my chosen ones shall fully enjoy.
  • 23. They will not labor in vain and not give birth to alarm.
    For they are offspring blessed by the Lord,
    their descendants along with them.
  • 24. Even before they call out, I will answer.
    While they are yet talking, I will heed.

The Psalm
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-29
Thanksgiving for the Victory Brought About by God

This psalm of victory perhaps originally celebrated the Israelites’ return from the Babylonian exile. Though it does not in its Israelite context reflect an ideology of resurrection or eternal life, the psalmist’s declaration that “God did not hand me over to death” connects the passage perfectly to the central theme of the Easter season. The “horns of the altar” (verse 27) refers to horn-like projections at each corner of the Jerusalem Temple’s sacrificial altar. This feature of the altar is as required in the altar’s construction in Exodus 27:2.

  • 1. Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good:
    God’s steadfast love is eternal!
  • 2. Speak out, Israel!
    God’s steadfast love is eternal!
  • 14. Yah is my strength and my rescue;
    God has become my victory.
  • 15. A sound of joy and victory is in the tents of the righteous!
    The right arm of the Lord performed mighty acts;
  • 16. The right arm of God is exalted;
    The right arm of the Lord performed mighty acts.
  • 17. I did not die but live,
    and I will recount the acts of Yah!
  • 18. Yah has certainly chastened me,
    but God did not hand me over to death.
  • 19. Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I shall enter them giving thanks to Yah.
  • 20. This is the Lord’s gate;
    only the righteous shall enter it.
  • 21. I thank you, for you have answered me;
    you have become my victory.
  • 22. The rock the builders rejected has become the cornerstone!
  • 23. This is from the Lord;
    it is extraordinary in our eyes.
  • 24. This is the day the Lord brought about;
    let us rejoice and celebrate on it.
  • 25. Please, Lord, rescue us!
    Please, Lord, cause us to prosper!
  • 26. May all who enter be blessed in the name of the Lord!
    We bless you all from the house of the Lord.
  • 27. The Lord is God and gives us light;
    tie up the festival offering with cords;
    bring it to the horns of the altar!
  • 28. You are my God, and I shall thank you;
    my God, and I shall exalt you.
  • 29. Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good:
    God’s steadfast love is eternal!

The Second Reading
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Jesus’ Resurrection as the Promise of Cosmic Victory

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is part of an extensive correspondence with communities of believers in Corinth, written between 55 and 56 CE. In it Paul responds to specific questions and challenges they had conveyed to him. Jesus’ resurrection, and its relationship to the resurrection of believers, was one of the central issues. Paul devotes an entire chapter to how Jesus was raised from the dead, both quoting the earliest sources he knows and setting out his own views. In this passage, Paul expresses his theology of how Jesus corresponds to Adam: just as people follow Adam in death, the way to resurrection is opened to them by the Anointed. He is the “primal offering,” a term familiar to Paul and his audience as designating the first, promising sacrifices of springtime (Deuteronomy 26:10).

If we hope in the Anointed in this life only, we are the most pitiful of people! But now the Anointed has been raised from the dead, primal offering of those who sleep. For since death is through a person, resurrection of the dead is also through a person. Because just as in Adam all die, so also in the Anointed all shall be made alive. But each in proper order: the Anointed, primal offering, thereafter those of the Anointed in his arrival. Then, the conclusion: when he delivers over the Kingdom to God, that is to the Father, when he shall abolish all rule and all authority and power. Because it is necessary for him to reign until he puts all enemies under his feet. Death is the last enemy abolished.

or Acts 10:34-43
The Power of the Gospel for All Who Believe

The book of Acts portrays how the earliest preaching bore witness to Jesus’ resurrection and proclaimed the cleansing of sins for all people who believe. In recounting the message of God’s anointing of Jesus, Rock—Peter—begins with John’s immersion of repentance for the cleansing of sins, continues through Jesus’ ministry of healing and doing good, and culminates in the appearance of Jesus to the witnesses after his death. Here, Rock’s realization of God’s acceptance of all people augments the message in Jesus’ name first delivered to the people of Israel.

Rock—Peter—opened his mouth and said, “In truth, I understand that God is not one who shows favoritism, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does righteousness is acceptable to him. In reference to the message that he sent to the people of Israel proclaiming peace through the Anointed Jesus––this one is Lord of all: you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the immersion of repentance for cleansing of sins  proclaimed by John. You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power––who then went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. So we are witnesses of all that he did in the region of the Judeans and in Jerusalem. The one they killed by hanging him on a tree—this one God raised on the third day and caused to appear, not to all the people, but to witnesses who had been chosen beforehand by God, to us who ate and drank with him after he arose from the dead. He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness: all who believe in him receive cleansing from sins through his name.

The Gospel
John 20:1-18
“I Have Seen the Master”

The Gospel of John tells the Easter morning story with an emphasis on seeing and believing, as well as on the particular role of Mary Magdalene as a witness to the Resurrection. The account describes much activity in an almost frenetic scene of running, bending, turning, and weeping—all leading up to encounter! The experience of the empty tomb challenges familiar expectations and hierarchies, while Mary’s experience of the risen Lord becomes clear to her in the most familiar of all ways: when she hears him speak her name. With word of his impending ascension, he invites her and all his committed students to join the throng he leads to God: the Father they now fully share.

At the first opportunity after Sabbath, Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb—when still dark—and saw the stone taken from the tomb. She ran and came to Simon Rock—Peter—and to another committed student, whom Jesus loved. She said to them, “They have taken the Master from the tomb and we do not know where they have placed him.” So Rock went out, and the other student, and they came to the tomb. The two of them had been running together but the other student ran ahead more quickly than Peter, so he came first to the tomb. Bending down he saw the dressings laid out inside, though he did not enter. Then Simon Rock also came following him, and he entered into the tomb and perceived the dressings laid out and the kerchief, which had been upon his head, not laid with the dressings but bundled in a separate place. Only then did the other student, who had come first, enter into the tomb. He saw and believed, although they did not yet know the Scripture that he had to arise from the dead. So the students returned to their group. But Mary stood outside the tomb, weeping. While she wept, she bent down into the tomb and perceived two angels in white, sitting—one at the head and one at the feet—where the body of Jesus had lain. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?” She said to them, “They have taken my Master, and I do not know where they have placed him.” Having said this, she turned back and perceived Jesus standing, and she did not know that he was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Master, if you have removed him, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” Turning again, she said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means, “Teacher”). Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me! I have not yet ascended to the Father. But proceed to my brothers and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene came announcing to the committed students, “I have seen the Master,” and that he had said these things to her.

or Luke 24:1-12
The Empty Tomb

Luke’s Gospel focuses so intently on what was found (and not found) at the tomb of Jesus that the list of those present comes only late in the reading. Mary Magdalene heads the list, as in all the Gospels, but Luke’s depicts many more witnesses than other sources. The narrative describes the witnesses as entering the tomb and not finding Jesus’ body. The two heavenly men who appear do not refer to Galilee as the place where Jesus is to be encountered, as in Mark and Matthew’s Gospels; instead, Galilee is the location of Jesus during his mortal life. In the Gospel according to Luke, Jerusalem is where the risen Jesus is manifested, and Peter gives a preliminary sign of how palpable that presence will be.

On the first of the week, at dawn’s break, the women came to the tomb carrying the spices they had prepared. But they found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. They entered, yet did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were at a loss concerning this, look: two men stood by them in gleaming apparel. As the witnesses became fearful and inclined their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised. Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, that it was necessary for the Son of Man to be delivered over into the hands of sinful men and to be crucified and on the third day to arise!” Then they remembered his sayings, and returning from the tomb they reported all these things to the Eleven and all the rest. And they were the Magdalene, Mary, and Joanna and Mary of James and the rest of the women with them who said these things to the delegates. But these sayings seemed to them a fable, and they disbelieved. Yet Rock—Peter—arose, ran to the tomb, and bending down saw the dressings; he departed, marveling to himself, “What has happened?”