The Preacher’s Study
Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
Victoria M. Tufano
Acts of the Apostles 16.9-15
Revelation 21.10, 22 – 22.5
John 14.23-29 or John 5.1-9
The Sundays of Easter in Year C, unlike Easter Sundays in Years A and B, feature passages from the Book of Revelation.
Today’s passage ties into the imagery of the other readings prescribed for today, drawing them together poetically and visually into a vision of the life of the baptized. The passage begins with an image of John transported to a high place overlooking the heavenly Jerusalem. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch to see in this an echo of Jesus having been transported to high places to be tempted with worldly riches and godly powers, which we read this year on the First Sunday of Lent (Luke 4:1–13). Led by an angel, John sees and knows what Jesus knew when the devil tempted him: Jerusalem belongs to the Lord God Almighty and to the one with whom the Almighty shares it. The renunciation of the devil that Jesus made on the pinnacle prepared us to make that same renunciation when we made our baptismal commitment, by which our names and those of the baptized from among the nations have been written in the Lamb’s book of life.
The names in the book of life are there because the followers of the Lamb preached the good news to them. Paul’s vision in the passage from Acts (16:9–15) reveals not only the willingness of Paul and his companions to endure great pains to preach the Word, but also the eagerness of people to hear it. We who have been baptized accept our place in the heavenly city not just for ourselves but also to bring all the world to Christ so that “the nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their glory to it” (Revelation 21:24). Psalm 67:1–2 prays that “God be gracious to us and bless us . . . that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.” Essentially, we are baptized to continue Christ’s work of reconciling the world to the God, to bring them into right relationship with God, which is worship.
Those who are in the city are once again in the presence of the tree of life, from which humankind was barred after the Fall (Genesis 3:24); it is surrounded by the water that flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. It can only be reached by going through the waters, and it offers nourishment for those who can reach it and healing for the nations, which presumably is to be taken to the world by those who have been fed.
Along with the imagery of water, the Revelation passage is notable for the imagery of light, the Glory of God, which illumines it for the nations to see, and the Lamb, the lamp that carries God’s light. In the light of the Easter season, we must recall the Easter Vigil, when the darkness of the church was illuminated first by the Paschal Candle, the light of Christ, then more brightly by being shared with smaller but numerous lights.
That celebration may have been five weeks ago, but we are still standing in the glow of that candle to remind us that we are to carry that light to the nations, that they may live eternally in the light of the heavenly Jerusalem.
Victoria M. Tufano is senior editor and liturgical consultant at Liturgy Training Publications, and agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago. A former team member for the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, she often writes and speaks about liturgy and Christian initiation, and she is a member of the Christian Initiation Seminar of the North American Academy of Liturgy.