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COMMENTARYBIBLE STUDYLECTOR TIPS

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

Easter 2B Homilies

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

We are called to keep the commandments of God

Reading II: 1 John 5:1-6

  • In the second reading,John makes the point that through Christ’s blood and sacrifice; at the moment of Christ’s death, the world is saved.
  • By our Baptism into the death of Jesus, we are born to new life as children of God.
  • Our duty is simply to believe in Jesus Christ.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor

Scripture in Context

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Introductory

Visual Bible
by Stephen M. Miller

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Introduction to the New Testament
by Raymond E. Brown

Commentary by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau

Believing in Jesus as Son of God, we triumph over evil

This book is not really a “letter.” It has no greeting nor final salutation. It is rather a theological work or a homily made necessary by a division in the community. It seems that some early Christians did not believe that Jesus had been truly human. Christians are reminded that at baptism they professed their faith in Jesus as the Christ. Now, they must live out that faith in loving God, loving one another, and obeying the commandments. As Jesus was truly in the flesh, we need to live out spiritual realities in concrete, human behaviors. As Jesus was Son of God both at his baptism (water) and at his death (blood), so are we God’s people in this life and in the next.

©2020 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Commentary by Fr. Eamon Tobin

The second readings during the B cycle are always taken from the First Letter of John, an epistle written towards the end of the first century to a church undergoing traumatic internal struggle around the questions of right faith and right behavior. At issue was a proper understanding of the person of Jesus and his role in salvation, as well as a commitment to communal living according to the demands of Christian fellowship. The author insists that true faith recognizes Jesus as the incarnate Son of God and that right behavior is reflected in the mutual love among community members. When we are “begotten by God,” we hold fast to this faith and “testify” to the truth by a life in which “we love the children of God.”

©2021 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Commentary by Sr. Mary M. McGlone

The First Letter of John deals with three interrelated dimensions of believers’ relationship with God: obedience, love and faith. All three play into the selection heard on the Second Sunday of Easter.  The reading begins focusing on belief, claiming that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God. We should not allow that statement to pass without considering its implications.

Two of the rich dimensions of that statement come from its notion of faith and the idea that the believer is begotten of God. This letter conceives of faith as an ongoing activity, a process of growth rather than the simple acceptance of a creed or dogma. Saying that belief demonstrates that a person is begotten by God indicates that the belief itself is a grace. People do not come to faith on their own but by virtue of collaboration with God’s love active within them. Belief involves the total person. While it has an intellectual dimension because it needs to be articulated, it is also affective and effective: Belief implies a relationship of love that expresses itself in concrete behaviors.

The opening statement of our reading indicates that belief is a result of being begotten by God; God’s love has come upon the people of faith in such a way as to give them a new birth. This notion of faith as a new birth means that everything about their perspective changes. Once people have experienced “being begotten” by God, every other dimension of their life takes its meaning from that experience. That is why the author goes on to say that the person who is begotten by God conquers the world. Such people cannot be coerced or seduced by the world; nothing has value except in the light of their relationship with God.

The change that happens with being begotten by God is both decisive and ongoing. We cannot conceive of faith or being begotten by God as a once-for-all event. Because we are human beings living in time, our faith and love and obedience continually affect every dimension of our lives and grow for as long as we live.

©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2018 Reflections,  2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.
Feasting on the Word

They will know we are Christians by our love

“They’ll know we are Christians by our love … yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” So runs the familiar refrain of Peter Scholtes’s 1966 hymn, composed at the height of one of the most tumultuous periods of U.S. history and now sung worldwide. He set the lyrics to music quickly, in less than half a day, not only because he was moved by Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, and others involved in the civil rights movement. Quite likely, one might surmise, he was also deeply steeped in the words and worldview of 1 John.

In the first three verses of this pericope, the author mentions “love” no less than five times. Here at the conclusion of his letter or treatise he simply reiterates a key message: those who come from God love God and love others in God’s name. “By this we shall know” them, he says midway through the letter, by the love the “children of God” enact through their faith “not in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (3:18, 19 RSV)

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Feasting on the Word

Victorious faith

What does the author mean when he says, in the next sentence, that our faith “is the victory that conquers the world”? The answer appears to be given in verse 5, where the same elements (victory, faith) are repeated and defined. There the author speaks about who conquers (obviously, the Christian) and what this conquering faith is, the confession that the very Son of God came to earth in the person of Jesus (note the parallel to 5:1, “the Christ is Jesus”). As the other references to believing in 1 John show, faith is not a term without an object. Christians believe in Jesus (3:23; 5:10, 13), and they believe or confess things about Jesus, most importantly that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God incarnate (5:1, 5). The author is giving his first-century readers a specific christological foundation for the empowerment and boldness they have experienced.

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Understanding the Bible Commentary

"John's This is how we know" statements

1 Jn 5:2 / This verse begins with the last of the writer’s eight This is how we know statements (1 Jn 2:3, 5; 3:16, 19, 24; 4:2, 13). They reassure the readers of their spiritual standing before God (we know him, 1 Jn  2:3; we are in him 1 Jn 2:5; we belong to the truth, 1 Jn 3:19; he lives in us, 1 Jn 3:24; we live in him, 1 Jn 4:16), to discern the presence of the Spirit of God (1 Jn 4:2), and to understand the nature of love (3:16; 5:2). Specifically in 1 Jn 5:2, the object of our knowledge is that we love the children of God. All along the Elder has been urging his readers to love one another (1 Jn 2:10; 3:11, 14, 16, 18, 23; 4:7, 11–12, 21; 5:1), and he has made love for one’s brothers and sisters a criterion for distinguishing between his own faithful community and the misbelieving secessionists (1 Jn 2:9, 11; 3:10, 15, 17; 4:8, 20). But how does one know whether one is authentically loving the children of God (1 Jn 3:1–2, 10)? A variety of answers from within the epistle is possible: when we “lay down our lives for our brothers” (3:16), by having pity on our brother when he is in need (1 Jn 3:17), when we love “with actions and in truth” (3:18), and when we love like God does (1 Jn 4:10–11). Verse 2 adds: by (lit., “whenever,” at the same time, we are) loving God and carrying out his commands. One test of true Christian love is whether it comes from a heart that loves and is obedient to God. This, of course, is the reverse of the point made in 1 Jn 4:20–5:1, in which authentic love for God is seen in love for God’s children, one’s fellow believers. The two truths are complementary.

SOURCE: Content taken from UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE COMMENTARY SERIES (36 Volumes); W. Ward Gasque, Robert L Hubbard Jr., Robert K Johnston (General Editors); Copyright © 2000. Baker Books. All rights reserved.

Sermon Writer
EXEGESIS

1 JOHN 5:1. WHOEVER BELIEVES

1 JOHN 5:2-4a. BY THIS WE KNOW

1 JOHN 5:4b-6. FAITH IS THE VICTORY

SOURCE: Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

Catholic Productions

By Grace You Have Been Saved

In the Book of Ephesians, St. Paul gives one of his most famous phrases, “By grace you have been saved.” And, without seeing the context of Paul’s use of this phrase, one can easily conclude that Paul is referring to being saved with regard to “final salvation,” and not being saved with regard to “initial salvation.” (This, of course, does not mean that it is not through grace that we achieve our final salvation, but, rather, that final salvation is outside of the scope of what Paul is speaking of in Ephesians 2:5).

Easter 2B Homilies

AGAPE CATHOLIC BIBLE STUDY

The victory of faith

by Michal Hunt

In the Second Reading, St. John writes that the way one can identify the “children of God” is not only by their love for others (1 Jn 4:7-9; 5:2) and their love for God the Father and God the Son (1 Jn 5:1) but also by their belief in the divine sonship of Jesus Christ.  It is a belief demonstrated by love for God and the obedience of faith in following His commandments.  It is the same teaching Jesus gave in His Last Supper homily when He said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15; also see Jn 15:10 and 1 Jn 2:3-5 ).  This faith demonstrated by obedience is the source of the Christian’s power over the world and victory over evil.

The children of God

St. John writes that the way one can identify the “children of God” is not only by their love for others (4:7-95:2) and their love for God the Father and God the Son (5:1) but also by their belief in the divine sonship of Jesus Christ.  It is a belief demonstrated by love for God and the obedience of faith in following His commandments (verse 3).  Jesus gave the same teaching in His Last Supper homily when He said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15; also see 15:10 and 1 Jn 2:3-5).  Faith demonstrated by obedience is the source of the Christian’s power over the world and victory over evil (verses 3-5).

Water and blood

Water and blood in verse 6 refer to the water and blood that flowed from Jesus’s side after He offered up His life on the altar of the Cross and the Roman soldier pierced His side (Jn 19:34).  However, St. John writes, we must remember it isn’t only by the blood of Christ that we receive our gift of redemption.  It is also by the water of Baptism that the Holy Spirit, who anointed Christ at His Baptism, continues to anoint Christians in every generation to new life in the Spirit as children in the family of God.  That is why Jesus commanded that baptism is necessary for salvation (Mk 16:16Acts 2:38-39).  The Holy Spirit was present at Jesus’s baptism (Mt 3:16Mk 1:10Lk 3:22Jn 1:32-34), and Jesus breathed out His Spirit upon the earth when He exhaled His last breath (Jn 19:30).  It is God the Holy Spirit who testifies to the Christ, and it is He who is the answer to Pilate’s question when he asked Jesus, “What is truth?”  The Spirit who testifies to the Christ is the Truth (verse 6).

SOURCE: content taken from Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission. Section divisions and titles added.

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

Easter 2B Homilies

Lisa St. Romaine

This section of Philippians is well-known. The challenge: to proclaim it anew, with amazement, pacing changes, and energy at the closing lines! Lisa has suggestions.

Lisa St. Romaine offers lector tips. She is married to Philip St. Romain, M.S., D. Min. Her videos are posted on her YouTube channel every Wednesday for Sunday.
Paul Schlachter

Our faith is our victory

Points to consider

I begin reading from the first letter of John.  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God.

There are some verbs that on first hearing sound disconnected: believeloveobey.  This literal translation does not help to clarify but at least it does not obscure either.  I will need fifteen or so readings to make it run smoothly.

I have a sense that all these phrases, which will sound disjoint in the voice of a poorly prepared reader, recapitulate in many ways our life together in community.  First there is community of the Father and the one begotten by him, then of God and the children of God.  It is a message about the community of faith, where love of God reveals love of neighbor.  They are for all intents and purposes the same thing!  We know that we love the children of God when we love God.

It sounds almost like a litany.  The believers are begotten by God and they conquer the world.  We love God and God’s children, so we keep God’s commandments, especially the greatest commandment of love.  Above all, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

In a time of doubt we know. I want to make John’s short phrase my own today.

When I read the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, I am looking ahead to today’s Gospel passage and the Lord’s words to Thomas.  I pray as I read that my church will have its own faith reinforced.

Then come the final words: The one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ.  If I speak them decisively my listeners will recall the water and blood that issued from his side at his death.  I notice that the apostle insists on both: not by water alone but by water and blood.  Let me just insist on this distinction, and let the homilist interpret it further for the assembly.

Key elements

Climax: The victory that conquers the world is our faith. 

Message for our assembly: Be encouraged by the warm words of the apostle.  When he says: not burdensome, he means ‘not overpowering’ or ‘not impossible.’  And he repeats the phrase conquers the world three times to show that our life in Christ is a life of possibilities.  Why am I reminded of those hard sayings of Jesus?

I will challenge myself: To take my time as I make the necessary connections between commandments, love, faith, overcoming, and the Spirit who testifies.

SOURCE: LectorWorks.org; Used with permission
Greg Warnusz

How our thoughts should change as a result of Jesus’ resurrection

Introduction

Ask the presider to tell your listeners (or tell them yourself):

The community of John had dissident members who preached a weak doctrine of Jesus, who claimed to special knowledge of God, and who did not practice Jesus’ commandment to love one another. This letter tries to heal the wounds caused by these members in the community.

Historical Situation

In liturgical year B, we read from the First Letter of Saint John on the Sundays of Easter. Here’s a description of the communities who received the original letter, adapted from the Introduction to the letter, in The New American Bible: They are specific Christian communities,

  1. some of whose members were advocating false doctrines (2:18f-26; 3:7).
  2. These errors are here recognized and rejected (4:4);
  3. although their advocates have left the community (2:19),
  4. the threat posed by them remains (3:11).
  5. They have refused to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ (2:22),
  6. the Son of God (2:23)
  7. who came into the world as true man (4:2).
  8. They are difficult people to deal with,
  9. claiming special knowledge of God
  10. but disregarding the divine commandments (2:4),
  11. particularly the commandment of love of neighbor (4:8),
  12. and refusing to accept faith in Christ as the source of sanctification (1:6; 2:6-9).
  13. Thus they are denying the redemptive value of Jesus’ death (5:6).

 

Now let’s look at the reading verse by verse.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the father loves (also) the one begotten by him. This means “everyone who claims to love God has to love the others whom God has begotten; the ones that God has begotten are the ones who believe that Jesus is the Christ.”These respond to conditions that I’ve numbered 5 and 11.
In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. This tells us how to be sure we’re square with the requirements of verse 1.
For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, Verse 3 refutes the heretics’ claim (see number 9, above) that special knowledge of God is required, simplifying everything. It raises the question, “And why can’t the heretics keep these commands? They’re not burdensome, after all.”
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who (indeed) is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? Verses 4 & 5 add this about those whose believe Jesus is the Son of God (refuting the heretics on point 6, above): They conquer the world (although the verses don’t say what it means to conquer the world).
This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth. Verse 6 is something of a change in subject. The water refers to Jesus’ baptism, at the beginning of his ministry, where the Spirit testified to him. The blood refers to Jesus’ bloody death at the end of his ministry. Both refer to the sacraments, as then known, baptism and the Eucharist. With respect to the heresies afflicting the community, these refer to the issues numbered 7 and 13

Proclaiming the Passage

Your listeners need not know all this background or appreciate these nuances intellectually. You can serve them best by reading the verses one at a time and pausing significantly after each verse. Let each gem of truth sink in a moment. Don’t risk blotting it out with another sentence delivered too soon. Different verses may strike chords in the hearts of different listeners. When you read them separtely in the table above (left column only), which strikes you?

SOURCE: LectorPrep.org

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