7th Sunday of Easter
On this seventh Sunday of Easter we are in a kind of limbo. Last Thursday we celebrated the feast of the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven. But his Spirit will not come to us into next Sunday at Pentecost. For the nine days between the Ascension of the Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the Apostles were alone. These nine days are commemorated in our word “novena” that simply means “nine.” Nevertheless, the Church uses this week to present us with one of the most important of all lessons.
But it is safe to say that the Apostles, just like ourselves, were never alone or deserted. We get an example in today’s first reading. The Apostles are trying to decide on a replacement for Judas, the one who betrayed the Lord. They understand that the successor must come from the ranks of those who have followed Jesus from the beginning.
Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men
Who accompanied us the whole time
The Lord Jesus came and went among us,
Beginning from the baptism of John
Until the day on which he was taken up from us,
Become with us a witness to his resurrection.
It’s good to know that there were others in addition to the Twelve who had followed Jesus and remained faithful from the beginning. Most of their names have been lost to history as most of our names will be. Nevertheless, there are two in their midst who fit the bill: Judas, called Barsabbas or Justus, and Matthias. Rather then take a vote the Apostles prayed and decided to leave the choice up to the Lord by drawing lots. They didn’t believe that they were leaving things up to chance but left it to the Lord to choose between the two qualified candidates. Although Matthias was chosen, one had to suspect that the other was still going to continue in the service of the Lord.
In today’s gospel Jesus makes known how dear the Apostles were to him. It is obvious that he regarded them as his special responsibility. In a prayer he addresses to the Father, he says,
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you have given me,
And I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction.
Son of destruction refers to Judas, the one whose place was filled in today’s first reading.
We usually think of the bishops of the Church as the successors of the Apostles, but whenever we hear of the twelve Apostles we should also think of ourselves as their successors. Just as Matthias was chosen by God to succeed Judas we should also consider ourselves chosen by God to carry on his work.
Last Thursday we celebrated the feast of the Ascension of our Lord. Just before he departed from his disciples Jesus told them:
Go into the whole world
And proclaim the gospel to every creature.
We must understand that it is not just up to the Pope or bishops to carry on the work of the Apostles. In today’s second reading St. John makes it clear that we are all called to be apostles.
Beloved, if God so loved us,
We also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God,
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
And his love is brought to perfection in us.
Today is Mother’s day and there is no greater love than the love of a mother for her children even when those children are no longer children. When our mothers took upon themselves the responsibility to care for us, they said yes to a life of self-sacrifice. They said yes just as Mary did at the Annunciation. It might not be fashionable to use the word “handmaid” of the Lord anymore, but when we think of our mothers or look around at all the mothers in church, we can really behold handmaids of the Lord. Mothers are true successors of the Apostles.
Reading 1. Acts 1: 15-17, 20a, 20c-26
Reading II. I John 4: 11-16
Gospel. John 17: 11b-19 (I sent them into the world)