Sunday Sermon for May 7, 2023, the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A

Readings: Acts 6:1-7; 1 Pet 2:4-9; Jn 14:1-12

In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells His Apostles that He is going to His Father’s house, but that He is also going to come back to take them to Himself. He said He was going to prepare a place for them, then added that they already know the way to where He is going. Thomas, the Apostle most like the rest of us, says they do not know where our Lord is going and, therefore, they certainly did not know the way that leads there. Jesus told him: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

We recall the words of St. Peter on Pentecost when he said there is no other name given to us by which we will be saved other than the Name of Jesus. He, and He alone, is the way to Heaven! In the Gospel the Lord said that in His Father’s house there are many dwelling places, but He did not say there are many ways to get there.

So, every person is invited by the Church’s first Pope to come to Jesus, “a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God.” If we come to Him, we are made into living stones, being “built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Notice, once again, the only way to become a living stone or a priest who can offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God is through Jesus.

Jesus is the Living Stone and He is the Priest. We are baptized into Jesus and, therefore, become living stones by participation in His life. We also share in the baptismal priesthood—each of us is priest, prophet, and king in Christ, so we can offer our sufferings and sacrifices to our Heavenly Father. These sacrifices become acceptable because they are offered in and through our Blessed Lord. This is true especially at Mass where we can unite our sacrifices with the sacrifice of Jesus so that our sufferings become His. United with the sacrifice of the Mass, these offerings are not only acceptable to the Father, but they participate in and continue the work of redemption and salvation.

This is the grace given to every baptized person. This is why St. Peter can say that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own.” God chose you and, in His Son, He has transformed you to be His own son or daughter. In doing this, He has given you a participation in His own divine nature. This is why your sacrifices can be acceptable. However, we must remember that this is not something we did or deserved; it is something God did for us and it is a pure gift.

Being a son or daughter of God brings with it something even greater. In the Gospel our Lord tells Philip “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” When you are in the state of grace, God, the Most Holy Trinity, dwells in you. You are truly a temple of the Lord! The temple is where God is worshipped and where sacrifice is offered. The temple is also holy.

This helps us to understand the necessity for each of us to grow in holiness. Many people have the mistaken notion that holiness is only for a select few. Those in convents and monasteries need to be holy, but the rest of us are not. It is true that those in convents and monasteries need to be holy, but so does everyone else. Just look at the first reading where six men were chosen to distribute food. What qualifications were necessary for this task? They needed to be reputable, filled with the Spirit, and wise.

I think we can all understand the need to be reputable, but holiness and wisdom may not be at the top of our list of qualifications for someone being asked to do something we would call “unskilled labor.”

The Apostles clearly thought holiness was essential for this task. If holiness is essential for something as simple as distributing food then, by extension, we can say it is essential for anything and everything a Christian person does.

Why? Because everything we do should be done in, through, for, and with our Lord. If our Lord dwells in us, we are holy and that holiness should be reflected in our words and actions. The holiness we radiate is our Lord Himself. We know where He went and we know how to get there. Yes, He dwells in Heaven, but He dwells in us; He is holy and He is the only way to true holiness—and to heaven!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit