Our readings today help us understand how Jesus’ works are the works of the Father and how disciples of Christ are called to share in and continue this work, by serving one another as representatives of God.
Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones. (Jn 14:12)
What actions can you take to serve you community?
How does the Holy Spirit empower you for holiness and service?
Who inspires your life?
In today’s Gospel, John describes Jesus speaking with the apostles about his relationship to the Father. As the apostles seek understanding, Jesus articulates in multiple ways how he is related to the Father. Jesus affirms their connection by saying: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This assertion might suggest that Jesus is only a conduit to connect to the Father. But Jesus further explains that the Father is in him and he is in the Father. Moreover, all of Jesus’ actions are works of the Father. These actions include the powerful signs that frame John’s Gospel (e.g., healing the man born blind, raising Lazarus) as well as his crucifixion and resurrection. The relationship between the persons of the Trinity would be formally expressed at the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople in the fourth century. Today’s Gospel provides some of the biblical evidence for understanding the relationship between the persons of the Trinity.
It is important that John connects belief in Jesus to Christian mission, saying, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones.” Foundational to Christian faith is the requirement for believers to serve one another as an expression of their belief in God. The first and second readings provide examples of Christian faith in action.
In Acts, Luke describes a conflict over the allocation of food to widows. Widows were among the most vulnerable in society, often lacking support or access to economic independence. In the legal and prophetic texts of the Old Testament, widows are regularly mentioned with orphans as two groups of people who should receive particular care (e.g., Ex 22:22; Is 1:17). In the first reading, seven reputable community members who are “filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom” are appointed to oversee the proper distribution of food. These people are models for all who are called to live out faith in Christ. The second reading from 1 Peter echoes this, calling believers to holiness by creating a community founded on Christ’s life and love.
One excellent model of that call to faith and service is celebrated one day before this Sunday. May 9 is the feast of St. Louise de Marillac, who devoted her life to the care of others, especially people who were poor, sick and most vulnerable, caring for them in their homes and in hospitals. St. Louise imitated Christ through her works. Likewise, she wisely realized that service needed to go beyond her life. She organized women in her community, co-founding the Daughters of Charity with St. Vincent de Paul. Today, these women continue St. Louise’s legacy and mission by serving worldwide, providing care to people with various challenges, including sick and aging populations, migrants, people with disabilities and addictions and people living in poverty. Today’s readings inspire us to live selflessly and look for models like St. Louise to inspire our faith and work.