Acts 14: Return from the first missionary Journey
This is really a rather strange passage to pick out from the Acts for reading on a Sunday, for there are many which would advance one's knowledge of the spread of the Faith more. But the picture or Church structure which it gives is fascinating.
The Apostles appoint elders in their new communities, and report to their own community, fully assembled, when they get home. The interest of this is that there is no priestly or clerical structure yet. if we may assume that the elders follow the pattern of the elders of local Jewish communities, they are simply respected laymen, a council with an elected president who changes from time to time: there is no sign of any bishop to preside, though in other Churches there were bishops within a few decades. The report to the assembled community also shows that at this time the responsibility for the ,Church
and for the affairs of Christianity rested very squarely on the shoulders of the community as a whole — indeed, as there was no priestly class, it could not rest anywhere else — for the Holy Spirit guided all equally.
There way no possibility of a "wethey" attitude between clergy and laity: clergy could not domineer and laity could not "leave it to father," for the division simply did not exist,
(Acts 14: 21-27) Apocalypse 21 : The New Jerusalem
The New Testament gives us various pictures of the end of time and the winding up of all things. Mark speaks of the coming of the Son of Man as judge on the clouds of Heaven, and Matthew of the great division between sheep and goats on the basis.of love. Paul tells of the Son presenting the Kingdom to his Father.
Here, at the end of the book. to confirm and strengthen Christians in persecution, we have the reassur
ing vision of a new Heaven, a new earth and a new city in which to dwell, all the tears and trouble of the past being wiped away. The details and the mode of the end are not for us to know, but the constant element which gives the ground of Christian hope is the promise of the establishment of Justice and joy in God's presence.
(Acme. 21: 1-51 John 13: love one another This passage begins Jesus' discourse after the Last Supper, in which Our Lord gives his disciples their final instructions to be put into practice after his departure.
As they are in the Gospel of John, the references to the glorification of the Son of Man obviously refer to his Crucifixion, which is frequently referred to as his glorification, and indeed John's whole Passion narrative is shaped to stress that Christ reigns from the Tree of the Cross.
In John the movement of
glorification is completed at the Resurrection, ofr it is then that Christ ascends to his Father to take his seat at the right hand.
The transferance of this passage, and especially the saying that he is soon to go away, to the context of the approaching feast of the Ascension, takes it into the Luken timescheme, which assumes a more or less permanent presence of the Risen Lord with his disciples for 40 days after the Resurrection.
In any case the new commandment of love is given unParalleled, solemnity by coming here, at the head of the Lord's final instructions to his disciples, and by its context after his example of service in washing the disciples' feet and just before his supreme act of loving generosity on the Cross.
(.1n 13: 31-35)
Henry Wansbrough, OSB