7th Sunday of Easter – Year B.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Prayers for the Future.”
In the first reading, Peter lays down the criteria for Judas’ replacement. It was to be one of the men who had been with Jesus from the beginning of Jesus’ public life until Jesus was taken up to heaven. The candidate had to be a witness between the earthly Jesus and the newly developing Church.
The second reading inspires our hearts to love beyond human limits, to live in God’s love and to let God’s love live in us. Those who see that love in Christians, see God already, as Jesus told Phillip that those who saw him, saw God.
In the Gospel Jesus prays for ‘Unity’ among his followers; that they may find fulfilment, joy and power in his Resurrection and through his Word they may be sanctified in the Truth.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.”
Acts 1:15-17, 20c-26.
Today’s reading from Acts is chosen because the events recounted took place during the days after Jesus had ascended into heaven but before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Christians at Pentecost. God’s salvific plan was for the renewal of Israel.
Jesus looked on the group of ‘twelve’ followers as the core of a new people, as representing and renewing the twelve tribes of Israel out of which God had established his people after the exodus. The twelve apostles were to replace the twelve tribal patriarchs of old to establish a reconstituted Israel. In addition, Jesus had told the apostles at the Last Supper that, when the kingdom came at last, they would “sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel”. The number was therefore important and had to be maintained.
Peter lays down the criteria for Judas’ replacement. It was to be one of the men who had been with Jesus from the beginning of Jesus’ public life until Jesus was taken up to heaven. These requirements were important because the new apostle, together with the original ones, acted as a witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, and only someone who knew Jesus before his death could witness that the Risen Jesus was the same one who had preached, worked miracles and died on the Cross. It was not just the number of apostles that was important, but their experience as well.
God expressed his choice by means of ‘lots’ and God chooses Matthias over ‘Joseph called Barsabbas’.
There are two lessons for us in this story from the early Church. Firstly, from the earliest days the Church had distinct structures and that the apostles had specific roles to play. The second, there was no question of who spoke for the community, Peter was in charge. The leadership role did not fall to Peter because he was the most intelligent, certainly not because he was the most faithful. It was simply that he was the one chosen by the Lord for this office.
To this very day, the Lord continues to choose the one to occupy the ‘Chair of St. Peter’.
Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab.
The Psalm, a thanksgiving for recovery from sickness, makes an appropriate Easter hymn. The court of heaven is invited to join in expressing gratitude. God has shown his love in forgiveness and healing.
1 John 4:11-16.
Love is a faith experience. Our faith in God is made possible and perfect through the love we have for one another. When we see human love, it reveals something of God, and when we experience God in our lives, it helps us to understand human love a little bit better.
The First Letter of John is telling us about this truth. It is the lens through which we need to view John’s description of love, as well as our own loving relationships. For where there is true love, we will find God, and where love is challenged, or broken, or false, we will find that God is absent.
Chapter Four of 1 John is our starting point. It is the most developed treatment of love in the New Testament. The verb agapon (to love) is used twenty times. Thirteen uses of agape (love of neighbour) are made. Love encompasses, in John’s mind, the whole of our lives as loving, faith filled people.
Our ability to love is itself a gift from God, whose love for us is primary. From it flows all other loving. Our response to God’s love is seen in the relationships we have with those around us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen (1 John 4:19-21). The extent to which we act out our love of brother and sister is understood to be corresponding with our love of God.
The last words of Jesus to his disciples on the night before his arrest, ended with a prayer (Jn. 17). Today’s Gospel reading is from this prayer of ‘Unity’.
After praying that the Father might glorify him, Jesus turns his attention to the situation his disciples will find themselves in after his departure. In today’s reading, the ‘world’ is the place to which God has sent Jesus to reveal his love. It is into the same world that Jesus sends his disciples. Jesus prays that one day this world might be able to believe that he was really sent by the Father. However, in the meantime the disciples will have to face the harsh reality that they will be hated just as Jesus himself was hated by those opposed to his message.
In completing the mission that his Father entrusted him with and dying on the Cross, Jesus glorifies
his Father. In the Resurrection of Jesus, the Father confirms the testimony given by his Son. This is how both are glorified. Hence the double affirmation of Jesus in vs.1.
To stand up for the truth, to claim justice for people discriminated against, to speak for the poor who have no voice, to defend those who are weak and defenceless, to fight for the cause of pro-life and the defenceless babies aborted in their mother’s wombs, is as unpopular today as ever. Christians who live the Gospel may be ridiculed or lose their friends and employment. Yet Jesus encourages us to be prepared to pay such a price, if we want to be his friends.
Jesus is sent by the Father and continues his mission by sending out his disciples. Now he is about to finish his mission. The disciples who have learnt something from him are told to continue his teachings. They are sent into the world just as Jesus was sent into the world. After his Resurrection, Jesus will give his disciples a more specific mission.
Christian mission is rooted in Jesus. The apostles have not chosen themselves to be Jesus’ witnesses. Jesus chose them and sent them out because they are his friends (Jn. 15:16). What may have been a desire in their hearts now becomes an open invitation to join Jesus in his work of transforming the world. Jesus is sending them into the world, but he wants them to be not of the world just as he is not of the world.
Some Christians interpret these words incorrectly. The disciples should not cut themselves off from the world, but to recognize the importance of a disciple to give witness with values given to them by Jesus, shining their light and helping others to find the way. But disciples must avoid the values of ‘the world’ such as corruption, greed and dishonesty that are ungodly, which destroy the fabric of society and the lives of so many people.
The great prayer for ‘Unity’ that Jesus offers during his last evening is his great hope for us, his Church, that we all may be ‘One’, united as Jesus is to his Father. This unity will be seen in unbroken fidelity to God; in harmony in our relationships with others; and through inner serenity in our hearts. We pray in desire for the outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit this coming Pentecost to renew and sanctify the Church.
The ‘evil one’ relentlessly tries to stir up hatred and opposition, trying to confuse, mislead and totally disrupt the inner peace of God’s people. It is reassuring to keep returning to the assurance given by this prayer of Jesus. Jesus prays that his disciples be consecrated in the truth, strengthened to face hatred in the world, and be protected from the ‘evil one’.
In times of rapid change, confusion and uncertainty, it is more than ever necessary to go back to the splendour of truth, revealed in the teachings of Jesus, which is a solid rock to act as foundations for a house to withstand all storms.
Jesus insists on the ‘knowledge of God’ as a source
of eternal life. Eternal life begins right here and now for those who welcome Jesus and his message. Do we read and understand God’s message, the Holy Bible? The Church can guide you; all you need to do is just ask.
To be ‘Catholic’ means to be of ‘One’ spirit throughout the world. It is our testimony, and also our hardest task. Our love for one another will unite us all to God the Father, and provide an answer to Jesus’ prayer.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 7th Sunday of Easter, Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. … Just as the early Church had distinct structures and the apostles and disciples had distinct roles to play, this tradition has been passed down to the Church of today. To this very day, the Lord continues to choose the one to occupy the ‘Chair of St. Peter’. The Lord continues to choose roles for all to actively carry out his will in his Church. Are we fully aware of the important roles that we as laity can play to assist our priest in the effective running of our parish?
Mon. … There are many ministries in our parish, which constantly require new people to serve. God does not choose the most intelligent or the most faithful to serve in his house. God may not call you by name or even personally, but can reach out to you in many different ways. When the ‘lots’ come up in your favour; how will you respond? This is a sign that God wishes you to accept.
Tues. … Today spend time reflecting on this truth, “Where there is true love, we will find God, and where love is challenged, or broken, or false, we will find that God is absent”.
Wed. … Our response to God’s love is seen in the relationships we have with those around us. The extent to which we act out our love of brother and sister is understood to be corresponding with our love of God. We may not wish to agree with the latter statement but the Gospel tells us that is the way God sees it.
Thurs. … We are all given a mission in this life in which we can glorify the Father. Through our baptism we have been chosen. As Christians we are called to continue the work of Christ by transforming this world and showing others the ‘Way’. By sharing the ‘Good News’ in word and by our loving actions, we will glorify the Father by establishing his kingdom here on earth.
Frid. … Let us strive to live out Christ’s ‘Prayer of Unity’ in our lives by establishing relationships based on gratuitous love for others. Let us now start praying for the ‘Outpouring of the Holy Spirit’ this coming Pentecost to renew as ‘One’, and sanctify the Christian faith. In this beautiful line Jesus prays that his disciples might have the precious gift of inner unity after the perfect model of unity with Jesus and the Father. This unity will be seen in unbroken fidelity to God; in harmony in our relationships with others. The Gospel reading is very appropriate as it is in the prayer of Jesus that the disciples will be consecrated in the truth, strengthened to face hatred in the world; and protected from the evil one.
Sat. … Jesus insists on the ‘knowledge of God’ as a source of eternal life. Eternal life begins right here and now for those who welcome Jesus and his ‘message’. Have we welcomed Jesus into our lives in everything that we are and in everything that we do? To be ‘One’ with Jesus is to be ‘One’ with the Father.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, we pray for your graces, wisdom and strength to continue the work of Christ by sharing the ‘Good News’ with others showing them the ‘Way’. May your Holy Spirit guide us that we may establish relationships based on the teachings of Christ to bring about a ‘Unity’ of love and common purpose among all Christians and other faiths.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.