When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, "We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us."
But Peter and the apostles said in reply, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors and raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and saviour to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."
The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.(P) The word of the Lord.
I will extol you, O Lord, for you drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld, you preserved me from among those going down into the pit. (R)
Sing praise to the Lord, you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger lasts but a moment, a lifetime, his good will. At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing. (R)
Hear, O Lord, and have pity on me, O Lord, be my helper. You changed my mourning into dancing, O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks. (R)
I, John, looked and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, and they cried out in a loud voice:
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing."
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out:
"To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever."
The four living creatures answered, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.(P) The word of the Lord.
At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something."
So they case it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from the shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
When they had finished the breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." Jesus said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Our Church has assigned some of the central passages from the Book of Revelation for the second reading on the Sundays of Easter Season. From last Sunday's passage, taken from the first chapter of the book, we have learned that the book was written by John, an apostle of Christ, who was exiled to the Greek island of Patmos for "proclaiming God's word and giving testimony to Jesus Christ", John (1:9). We have also learned that on the Lord's Day, a Sunday, or the day of Christ's resurrection, John was in prayer when a voice ordered him to write on a scroll whatever he saw and heard. And when John glanced in the direction of the voice, what he saw was as though the Lord Jesus, dressed in a long robe like a High priest and a gold sash like a king, John (1:12-13).
Seeing such a sight, John prostrated on the ground in fear. But Jesus touched him and told him not to be afraid and then further reassured him that He is "the first and the last"; He had "died" but "came back to life" and is "alive forever"; and that He is "the Living One who holds the keys to life and death", John (1:17-18). And John was then instructed once again to write down three things that the book would have - the things he "has seen, the things which are, and the things that are yet to come", John (1:19).
Today, we read another important text from the 5th chapter of the book. But before we go into the text, we shall briefly look at the preceding three chapters which are not covered by the Lectionary. In chapters 2 and 3, John recounts specific messages that Jesus gave to each of the seven churches. It is worth noting here that, up to that moment, John was still physically on earth. Whereas the setting changed in chapter 4, from earth to heaven, and John had a different experience. He describes a vision of heaven to which he was taken up "in the spirit", in some kind of "prophetic trance". He was in heaven not only to get a glimpse into the portals of heaven but also to see the world from the heavenly perspective. In this vision, he saw and heard many things, most of which are highly symbolic.
The first thing John saw in heaven was a "throne", with "God sitting on the throne", and "around the throne twenty-four elders clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads and sitting on twenty-four thrones". Scripture scholars suggest that John could not have literally seen God because the Book of Exodus states God Himself saying that "no human being can see Him, and live", Exodus (33:20). And then in front of the throne, John saw a "sea of glass like crystal", and beside the throne, four living creatures, each of them with many eyes and wings, and each with a different face, singing without interruption a song known to us and which we sing in the Holy Mass: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.
In the 5th chapter, John tells us that he saw God holding a scroll with seven seals and simultaneously, heard an angel ask loudly, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" When John realized that no one in heaven or on earth could do it, he began to weep bitterly. But as he did so, he was told not to cry. Just then, raising his head, he saw a Lamb looking, as though it had been slain. However, John knew that the Lamb was Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who was slain for the sins of humankind.
At that moment, he also heard twenty-four elders and four creatures singing a song of praise to the Lamb. They proclaimed that Jesus alone is worthy to open the scroll because, by His blood, He has "purchased for God, people of every race, language and nation; and made them a kingdom and priests for God", Revelation (5:1-10). The traditional view is that twenty-four elders represent the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. The four living creatures which resembled a lion, a calf, a human being and an eagle in flight, represent universal creation, on some accounts, the four evangelists.
At that point, today's passage Revelation (5:11-14) begins. John viewed countless angelic beings standing around the throne and shouting, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honour and glory and blessing!", John (5:11-12). The Greek word sphazo, used here for "slain", is the exact same word used for the slaughtering of animals for temple sacrifices. The word "worthy" means that he deserves it.
Thus, Jesus is seen as the paschal lamb sacrificed to save humankind from death and to atone for man's sin: for that, He alone possesses all the seven gifts that makes Him worthy of worship, such as: power or His ability to do anything; riches that are not earthly, but the riches of grace which are abundantly bestowed on the faithful; wisdom that is greater than the wisdom of King Solomon, Matthew (12:42) and surpasses worldly wisdom, 1 Corinthians (1); strength to do what must be done; honour that might be given to a King, 1 Timothy (1:17); glory surpassing that which Satan promised in the temptation of earthly power, Matthew (4:8); Luke (4:6); and blessing. The number seven, for Jews, was the perfect number, because God rested on the seventh day, Genesis (2:2-3). The number seven is also one of the most significant numbers in the Bible and the use of it for the first time relates to the creation story in the Book of Genesis. It symbolizes completeness or spiritual perfection.
And John thereafter recounts that he heard the whole of creation joining in the chorus of praise and singing. However, the song was addressed both to God the Father and to the Lamb. They cried out, "To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing, and honour, glory and might, forever and ever", Revelation (5:13). Here, we see "God" and "Lamb" are the same. Both are equal. Christ is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father; He is Lord of all, God over all. So, we see very clearly, Jesus is given equal "blessing and honour, glory and might" as His God the Father. Finally, John records a final scene of worship, "The four living creatures answered, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshipped", Revelation (5:14). In saying "Amen" they affirmed their testimony of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
What is the message for us?
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for at his command they were created,
and he established them for ever and ever -
he issued a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted,
his splendour is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the Lord.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!