Sunday Bible Reflections
In today’s first reading, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus’ appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus’ saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and he has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.
Today’s First Reading begins by giving us a time frame—the events take place during the days between Christ’s Ascension and Pentecost. We’re at the same point in our liturgical year. On Thursday we celebrated His being taken up in glory, and next Sunday we will celebrate His sending of the Spirit upon the Church.
Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel today also captures the mood of departure and the anticipation. He is telling us today how it will be when He is no longer in the world.
God is love, and He revealed that love in sending His only Son to be a sacrificial offering for our sins.
In these words from today’s Epistle, we should hear an echo of the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac at the dawn of salvation history. Because Abraham obeyed God’s command and did not withhold his only beloved son, God promised that Abraham’s descendants, the children of Israel, would be the source of blessing for all nations (see Genesis 22:16–18).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that He is the true vine that God intended Israel to be—the source of divine life and wisdom for the nations (see Sirach 24:17–24).
In Baptism, each of us was joined to Him by the Holy Spirit. As a branch grows from a tree, our souls are to draw life from Him, nourished by His word and the Eucharist.
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.
He is the shepherd-prince, the new David—who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10–13, 23–31).
Jesus in today’s Gospel teaches His apostles how to interpret the Scriptures.
He tells them that all the Scriptures of what we now call the Old Testament refer to Him. He says that all the promises found in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in His passion, death, and resurrection. And He tells them that these Scriptures foretell the mission of the Church—to preach forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Three times in today’s Psalm we cry out a victory shout: “His mercy endures forever.”
Truly we’ve known the everlasting love of God, who has come to us as our Savior. By the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ pierced side (see John 19:34), we’ve been made God’s children, as we hear in today’s Epistle.