Commentary on the 7th Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

1st Reading: Acts 1: 15-17, 20a, 20c-26

The line in Acts that comes just before this passage states: 

“All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” 

So what goes on in this upper room is not just a ‘male thing.’ It is a gathering of those who have known and loved Jesus in life and now through death and into the resurrection. It is a community that has grown out of this lived experience of Jesus. (Preaching Resources, 5/28/06)  How might our church be like them and “be a witness to his resurrection”?

It is also important to remember that the number twelve was symbolic of Israel, the twelve tribes of Israel, representing the fullness of the ‘people of God.’ So these Twelve had been appointed by Jesus to be a sign of this ‘eschatological community.’  That is why it was important to select another one to replace Judas who had died.  These twelve must also be witnesses to the original saving history of both the earthly Jesus and his resurrection. They become this bridge between the earthly Jesus and the mission of the Church as a whole. The circle of the Twelve and the circle of the apostles (those sent out) sort of overlap. For all disciples are apostles – called to be sent out by Jesus to bring the Good News to the needy – and sometimes hostile – world. (R. Fuller, “Scripture In Depth,” http://liturgy/slu.edu )  

It feels good to be picked out, chosen.  Imagine what Matthias may have experienced when he heard the lot fell to him.  But we aren’t always picked.  Poor Barsabbas.  What do you think became of him?  Can you think of times when you were like Matthias and Barsabbas?   How did it affect your life after? 

2nd Reading – 1 John 4: 11-16 and the Gospel – John 17: 11b-19

Let’s look at these readings together for they come out of the same community. 

God’s love for us and others compel us to also love one another. This is possible as God abides in those who love.  God’s Spirit empowers them — lives in them. This is one of the main themes of the Johannine tradition. It is constantly being repeated. But let not its repetition deaden our ears and hearts to its truth. This mutual indwelling of our God of love is the essence of the saving event we call the Good News of Jesus Christ.  (R. Fuller, “Scripture In Depth,” http://liturgy/slu.edu )  

We see Spirit at work through its fruits:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Take time to consider where you see these fruits in your life.  Take comfort in knowing Spirit is gifted to us so that God, and God’s love, remains with us.

We are consecrated with God’s truth.  What does that mean to you?  How does this relate to Mass?  It is not only the bread and wine that are consecrated at the table.  We are all made holy through the grace of God.  We stand in truth, open to that consecration, knowing that we are being strengthened and nourished…so we can be sent forth into the world.  

Karl Barth once referred to the period between the ascension and Pentecost as a “significant pause.”  It is a pause between the actions of God, a pause in which all the community can is wait and pray.  It may seem paradoxical, but although the Spirit came, in Johannine language, ‘to remain with us forever,’ the Church nevertheless has to pray constantly, Veni Sancte Spiritus.  The gift of the Spirit is never an assured possession but has to be constantly sought anew in prayer, (M. BIrmingham’s W& W Worksbook-B, p. 417).

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