6th Sunday Easter C
Acts 15:1-2,22-29; Ps 67:2-8; Rev 21:10-14,22-23; Jn 14:13-29
(Scriptures included after homily)
There’s an ancient wedding tradition that calls for the bride’s wearing of “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue.” * It’s one of those superstitious practices, stemming back to the Victorian Era that was supposed to bring good luck to newlyweds. Many brides, even today, still adhere to the “Old, New, Borrowed, Blue” tradition in their wedding day attire, although they may not have a clue as to why.
Yet, it’s the “why,” the meaning of it all, that holds the hidden treasure. It’s the “why” that seems to fit so well with our Scripture readings today. And since we ARE – ‘the Bride of Christ’, as His Church, it’s probably something we should be aware of anyway. So let’s take a look at “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue.”
‘Something Old‘, in one word, represents continuity. It stands for our link to all of the good things of the past: our friends and family, our faith, our experiences and tradition. It’s our connection to something solid, safe and permanent. And yet, the Old is not meant to drag us down or to keep us from growing and improving. Something Old is our bedrock, but it’s not our “ball and chain.”
The Apostles of the early Christian Church were steeped in thousands of years of Jewish tradition. And now, as they were commissioned by Jesus to “Go and make disciples of ALL nations”, they began to run into new challenges to their own Jewish faith, since the non-Jewish, Gentiles, were becoming Christians as well.
It’s funny how we, as the human race, can become so possessive of our ‘status’, as doctors, or bricklayers, or Israelites, or even as Catholics, that we can be so exclusive and sometimes even rude to those people who are not “IN” our group . . .
And so it was with some of the early Jewish Christians. They were appalled that the unruly, Gentile outsiders could become Christian without the circumcision ritual that was required of them and dated back to their forefather Abraham. Yet it was a pretty harsh requirement for getting all the nations to Love one another, as Jesus taught.
So the Apostles got together in what could be called the First Council. And after an exhausting discussion, they came up with a compromise. The Gentiles did NOT have to get circumcised. There would be no ‘ball and chain’ locking them to someone else’s past. But they did have to improve their table manners. And they certainly had to improve their sexual morality. For you see, the key and basic Unit of Christianity is the Family. And the respect observed in the Family was then extended to the whole community, through sharing, and compromise, and moral integrity. In the end, that Christian marriage between the Jews and the Gentiles, brought along with it, ‘Something Old’, the rich and vibrant Jewish Tradition of strong Family and Community ties. And that meant Continuity.
Which brings us to ‘Something New.’ It’s funny, my car is only 11-years old and even though I’ve driven it some 290,000 miles, and it still runs like a champ, I feel like I’ve got the oldest car on the road. We certainly do like our ‘New’, from our cell phones, which are outdated in a couple months, to our movies that sometimes don’t even make it through a 90-minute viewing, because they’re too slow for us.
Yet even though we love our ‘New,’ we also seem to have a pretty tough time with change. The Church lost a gad of people after the changes that came from Vatican II. And I heard a lot of dissension over the few wording changes we made to the Mass, just a couple years ago. And yet, both reforms were actually quite beautiful and necessary for the positive growth of the Church.
Jesus brought something New to the world too. It’s called Optimism and it’s called Hope. And that Hope is not only meant for the distant future, but it’s meant for the rest of today, and for tomorrow as well. That hope isn’t dependent upon someone else’s decision, like getting that raise or promotion, or wondering where that next meal will come from. No, Jesus’ hope comes from within.
If I can change this little bit of attitude within myself. If I can learn to be satisfied with what I’ve got, with who I am, then I can also learn to Love others for who they are, and not for what I expect them to be. And then my Life can have a whole new Meaning, a whole new Hopefulness.
As the ‘Bride of Christ,’ our marriage with Jesus not only opens up a bright new world for us, but it also brings about the creation of beautiful new Christians, with new Baptisms and first Communions, and Jesus dwelling within them, and Jesus leaving us His Hope and Peace.
So just as the ‘Old’ stabilizes us with Continuity,
the ‘New’ invigorates us with Optimism and Hope.
Now, if we’ve got this continuity and hope, then we might be wondering why we would possibly need to Borrow anything. Well, the ‘Something Borrowed‘ in our wedding rhyme stands for the Happiness we receive when we realize that we are not alone.
No matter who we are, we are all dependent upon others for something. And we are all dependent on God for Everything.
And that dependency demands respect for one another, because without respect, there could be no borrowing. And that Borrowing also demands the responsibility of ‘Return,’ because without return, borrowing turns into stealing.
Jesus graces our lives with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in our Confirmation. And we, in turn, are called to use those ‘borrowed’ gifts to grace the lives of other people with the Love of Jesus. You see, if we are living, breathing, baptized Catholics, it is our Responsibility to Return God’s Love to Jesus, who dwells within others. If we don’t return that Love, then we’re simply stealing something borrowed. And if we DO return it, then we’re Graced even more, with the Happiness and Peace of Jesus within ourselves. Ever notice how good it makes us feel, when we help other people! That’s the Grace of Jesus! That’s the benefit that comes with borrowing.
So now our wedding formula for this new life is beginning to make some sense. Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed . . .
But what about ‘Something Blue‘? Well, the way I figured it, they must have needed a word to rhyme with ‘New’. And ‘Blue’ sounded a whole lot prettier than ‘Glue,’ even though Glue would have really been more ‘on target’ in meaning.
You see, here they’re talking about fidelity, love and purity. It’s the Glue that holds us together. It’s the Blue skies and the clear sailing, with no obstacles to get in our way and no diversions to distract us. You see, Blue is not always easy. But, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit always at our side, Blue has a much better chance than Gray.
Blue is the Glue, the Fidelity in Love, the Purity in Perfection.
St. John described the beauty of perfection as a city with no Temple, because God will dwell in our hearts; a city with no need for external light, because darkness will no longer exist; a city just gleaming with the ‘Old’ of Continuity and the ‘New’ of Hope, with the ‘Borrowed’ of Happiness and the ‘Blue’ of Fidelity – all to the Glory of God the Father, the Peace of Jesus Christ and the Comfort and Council of the Holy Spirit, our Greatest wedding Gift!
* OH and by the way, I didn’t mention the “Sixpence in her shoe” because that really pushes the limits of superstition, and we were getting kinda long-winded besides.
If we were to make a faith analogy, we might say that we have Jesus, not only in our shoe, but in our hearts. And that’s not something we need to put there. That’s someone God Himself has put there (the Holy Spirit). If it is something we think we’ll ever forget, then that’s why they made rosaries, necklaces, bracelets, prayer cards, etc . . . Some people even go as far as putting a rock down there (in their shoe) to remind them of the pain Jesus endured in His humanity. As Catholic Christians, we have no need for “luck” because we have FAITH that God will see us through it all. He WILL! Amen, beloved!
And may our Loving God bless you always!
Scripture Readings for the Mass of 05-05-13
Sixth Sunday of Easter, C
First Reading: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.
The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them: “The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us; may he let his face shine upon us. So may your way be known upon earth; among all nations, your salvation.
May the nations be glad and exult because you rule the peoples in equity; the nations on the earth you guide.
May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
Second Reading: Rev 21:10-14, 22-23
The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.
Gospel: Jn 14:23-29
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.
“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”