"We have an advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1). What is John telling us? That the reign of God is like a courtroom where we're lucky enough to have Jesus as the lawyer who'll get the divine judge to let us off easy? That's a rough description of one widely held understanding of this reading and a general theory of salvation. But is it the only interpretation?
In the sacred texts for today, we are reacquainted with the earliest believers in Jesus. We are invited to see and appreciate the impact of the risen Jesus on their lives. Because of Jesus, as Luke tells us in Acts, the believers were of one heart and mind. They shared all they had; there was no need to which they did not tend. Graced by God, they bore powerful witness to their risen Lord.
When asked to describe the mystery of Easter, author Carl Knudsen responded with the following story. Years ago, an old municipal lamplighter, engaged in putting out the street lamps one by one, was met by a reporter who asked him if he ever grew weary of his work. After all, it was a lonely job and the night was cold and damp.
"Never am I cheerless," said the old man, "for there is always a light ahead of me to lead me on."
The late Rudolph Bultmann often remarked, "A Gospel is simply a Passion/Resurrection narrative with a dozen or more introductory chapters." That means today's Gospel pericope is the first part of the most important passage in Mark's Gospel. Yet, because of this particular day's ceremonies and time limits, we rarely hear a homily of any suitable length on it. And when we actually think about Jesus' suffering and death, we're frequently reflecting on the 14 Stations of the Cross, not on the four Gospel Passion narratives.