This weekend’s readings prepare us for the Ascension this week and Pentecost next week. It’s a lead-up to Jesus going back to heaven, but making way for the Spirit to be our help.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
The first reading continues the story of the early Christian community and how they needed to make adjustments along the way as the church grew and spread to different cultures. The early Christians were mostly of Jewish tradition. For Christians, baptism is what gets you “in.” For male Jews, it’s circumcision. So, since mostly adults were being baptized, it became something of an issue when they were joining what the early Christians still considered to be a natural outgrowth of their Jewish faith. They adapted the requirements of the Law, adopting the New Covenant of Jesus, and upheld only three of the original Jewish laws—and circumcision wasn’t one of them. There was much rejoicing.
We see a vision of heaven in the second reading that reinforces our foundation in Judaism—the repeated number 12 throughout the reading (and in other parts of the book) symbolizing the Tribes of Israel and then the Apostles makes the connection that we are from the same roots; the same family of God.
The Gospel emphasizes the continuity of relationship between God and God’s people as Jesus connects the following of the law he gave us as being the same as the Father’s. When we seek that relationship, we are able to experience the Holy Spirit, who gives us everything we need to keep the relationship and share it with the world.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
Jesus said in the Gospel, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Do you ever feel troubled or afraid? What are you afraid of? How can Jesus help you with that?
The first reading talks about people who were making trouble in the community by scaring people with their teachings. The Apostles had to send four people and a letter to ease their fears. Have you ever come across someone who tried to use faith or religious teachings to scare or cause trouble? How did you know they were wrong? Were they effective in what they tried to do? How did you respond?
Is there anything that the Church asks of us that you feel is very hard or overly burdensome? How do you deal with it? How do you explain Church teaching to others who struggle with them?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”