Third Sunday of Easter [by Revd Dr Joachim Feldes]

Anglican lectionary:
Catholic lectionary:
1st Reading
Acts 9:1-20
Acts 5, 27b-41
2nd Reading
Rev 5:11-14
John 21:1-19
by Revd Dr Joachim Feldes, Anglican Church in Germany

Focussing on Participation

Participation means having the chance to be a part of the society at an eye-to-eye level. It is opposite to any limitation, segregation, let alone exclusion in terms of money or culture, in terms of ethnic or religious characteristics. Participation means realising what article 1 of the German constitutions claims, i.e. the dignity of the human being is inviolable.

Given God’s great plan of a creation living as a whole organism whose members live with and die without the others, I see participation as a thoroughly biblical issue. This is most significantly illustrated and practiced by Jesus who passionately cares about those socially marginalised and segregated. It is one of his core effort to do everything possible get them back into contact with society, back to the tables, back to life, to God. Thus (re-)integrating and sharing are key parts of our calling as Christians and are opposed to an utterly non-sustainable economy seeking short-term profit alone. Our vocation is contrary to global segregation as it is neglecting or exploiting humans of this generation or those to come. We cannot but opening our minds and hearts to others who have been denied access to common wealth. We cannot but do everything we can to love and care for creation as God himself does.

Acts 5.27b-32,40-41

Apostles are pretty bold upright. Before the high priest they pronounce the sentence upright people all over the world will keep repeating: You have to obey God more than men. Looking at history, it was such people who were promoting our planet: Copernic, Gandhi, Bonhoeffer and many others – all of them resisting to any attempts of repression by authoritarian authorities. So they stamped our world more than those who pretended to be damn sure of their cases and positions. Taking this into account, dissidents today should not be marginalised, but be given a voice in the middle of society. They are a crucial part both of society and common sense, maybe the one who will eventually be proved right.

Acts 5 highlights how deeply the mission of the early church was rooted in her members’ faith. In spite of all obstacles and prohibition the apostles’ talk becomes a forceful sermon. They cannot help doing so, there’s no fussing around. There’s only bold proclaiming from the heart of the belief, as if their creed could protect them – kind of weird, crazy.

And yet, this has an impact, much stronger than expected. The high priests do not dare having them killed, but limit punishment to the apostles being whipped. Right afterwards the apostles go back, not scared at all, but even more encouraged than before, as if there was no ban or prohibition. Mission is crucial to them, opening to all the chance to share their faith, to participate in their belief. There’s no thought to be wasted about fear of being killed, yet they enjoy suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus.

Rev 5.11-14

What a future is being promised here: it is not an aggressive live, but a peaceful lamb that will be sitting on the throne. Might, wealth, wisdom, power, honour, glory and praise, everything that counts on earth will be with the lamb sacrificed for us, Jesus nailed on the cross. What a marvellous rehabilitation, what a great hope for the powerless, poor, weak, scorned and despised. In the end they will take part in the divine life. They will be raised, as they have been cast down on earth. The lamb makes sure that this future world is surely to come, a world where they are not marginalised anymore, but going to be members of a divine, welcoming, hospitable and comprehensive society.

Jn 21.1-19

Come and eat! Most welcoming is Jesus when offering the fish the disciple just did catch – thanks to his help. 150 big fish, symbolizing whole mankind, symbolizing a mankind united. And none of the disciples claims the fish his own, no one complains that the fish now are Jesus’s and his very gift to us. One or the other of the disciples most certainly had good reasons to keep the fish, to use them, to sell them.

The disciples do understand what Jesus makes clear: these fish – mankind – we come from God and belong to him. As well it is God’s trustworthy power that fills the net, feeds us and meets our longings. Without him, without the Son of God you do not get anywhere. Without him you labour, you struggle in vain.

By his support and invitation Jesus illustrates the kingdom of God and shows that it has already arrived and is realizing in this, in our world. And he makes clear that we are not spectators, but followers. It is our duty to share. Sharing the goods of this world is a key part of God’s kingdom. God wants us to share in order that everyone may participate – in society, culture and education. Becoming and being a member of God reconciled universal family, this is the way the kingdom of God is spreading. Come and eat! You are invited. You are invited to participate.

by Revd Dr Joachim Feldes, Anglican Church in Germany