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Seventh Sunday of Easter, Lectionary: 60

May 12, 2018

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

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers
—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons
in the one place —.
He said, “My brothers,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand
through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,
who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
He was numbered among us
and was allotted a share in this ministry.
“For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
May another take his office.
“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.”
So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

“Apostolic Succession” is a term we use to describe the essential connection between the first disciples and those of our own time.  For 2,000 years by means of the laying on of hands the ministry of the Apostles has been shared with the bishops and through them to priests, deacons and the laity.  The study of Church History has always fascinated me.  How did we get from the “Upper Room” to a global community?  Certainly it was a complicated process with more than a few tragic moments along the way but the Seventh Sunday of Easter is an excellent moment to look back in gratitude to all those who have paved the way for us and also to look forward with hope to making a way for those who will come after us.

When I read about the election of Matthias I always wonder how Barsabbas felt about the result.  Perhaps he was relieved at avoiding the responsibility of membership among “The Twelve”.  He might have felt badly as many of us have when we were not chosen for some place of honor.   The truth is that he was not any less chosen than Matthias.  He was chosen for something different.  In the final chapter of the Gospel of John, Peter asks about the future of “The Beloved Disciple”.  Jesus essentially tells him that it is none of his business.  St. Paul in I Cor. 12 describes the Church as a body with many different members, none of which are extras or of little importance.  Some members of the Body have public and well-known roles to play while others will not be easily recognized this side of Heaven.  The essential thing is to recognize your own place within the Body of Christ and live it well.  Nothing else matters so much as this.  How aware are you of your place in the Body of Christ?

The days between the Ascension and Pentecost were far from idle.  Our annual Novena in preparation for Pentecost should not be passive either.  For those who are not sure what to do I offer a few thoughts on the New Testament Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Holy Spirit that we are called to produce:

The New Testament Gifts of the Holy Spirit

(I Corinthians 12:1-11)

Tongues – primarily an instrument of prayer that allows the recipient to pray in accord with God’s specific Will without actually knowing what that is.  While it may also be a “trigger” for a prophetic word (known as Interpretation of Tongues), it is generally used to pray “in the Spirit”, and to “pray always”, since it requires only an act of the will to do and leaves the intellect free to focus attention elsewhere without losing contact with God’s presence  

Prophesy – by means of mental impressions or words God communicates with His people.  These messages require discernment as to whether such a “word” (rayma) is from God, from human imagination, or from the Evil one, or perhaps a mixture of some kind.  Such messages may be for a particular person or group.  They never contradict nor supersede Scripture in authority but are meant to encourage and challenge the believer or the community.  They are not usually predictions about the future but offer support for the present stage of the Christian journey to a particular person or group.   

Healing – either through intercessory prayer or through an inspired word or action in the Name of Jesus, illness of a physical or psychological nature is removed.  This is not a personal power of any human being.  It is dependent on obedience to God to function.  

Miracles – while not common or free from dispute by those who do not believe, God does act in the course of human events, with or without human instruments.  The fact the Jesus’ signs required some minimum of openness to recognize them as miracles, so they are today only for those who have eyes to see.

Faith – while based upon the natural human capacity to trust without control, this gift is the basis for the operation of all the other charisms, allowing for certainty in Christ without sensible scientific evidence or support.  More than insight, it leads to “God-sight”

Wisdom  empowers the Christian to effectively act on God’s Word by making clear just how a prophetic word or Scripture is to be acted upon in a particular situation

Knowledge – allows a Christian to come to an intuitive knowledge of things not knowable otherwise for the purpose of God’s plan

Discernment – The capacity to recognize what is truly of God from what is mere human invention or of demonic origin

How much experience have you had with these Gifts of the Holy Spirit?

While popularly associated with Charismatic Renewal, they are for the whole Body of Christ.

Are you willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in daily decisions and relationships?

Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit to work freely through you as and when He desires?

The Fruit of the Spirit

 “…The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Note that these are the results or consequences of living in accordance with the Holy Spirit.  They are best seen in light of their opposites:

“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissension, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies and the like…” (Galatians 5:19-21)

It is the work of the Spirit of God to liberate us from the “power of the flesh”, manifested in personal sin as well as original sin.  Our part is to renounce any attachment to sin in humble repentance and to ask the Spirit to replace sin with grace in our hearts.  To the degree that we consciously ask we will receive.  Our problems are often due to unawareness of our attachments to sin and our unwillingness to surrender to God one or another of our “favorite sins” in terms of attitudes, habits, or self-indulgence in one or more aspects of our lives.

How evident is the Fruit of the Spirit in your life?

What needs to happen for a greater abundance to be produced

What are you willing to do today to further this process?

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20

  1. (19a) The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
    or:
    R. Alleluia.
    Bless the LORD, O my soul;
    and all my being, bless his holy name.
    Bless the LORD, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits.
    R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
    or:
    R. Alleluia.
    For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
    As far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he put our transgressions from us.
    R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
    or:
    R. Alleluia.
    The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
    Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
    you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.
    R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.
    or:
    R. Alleluia.

 This Psalm celebrates the work of God here on earth and in Heaven.  It invites us to be both grateful and hopeful.  May these words lead you to desire Heaven more than anything on earth.

Reading 2 1 Jn 4:11-16

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.
This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.

Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.

To see God is promised to the Pure of Heart.  A heart filled with lesser desires is not able to see beyond itself, like looking through a dirty window.  Yet if God indeed dwells within us than those who look at us ought to be able to see God there, living and active.  Rarely does a saint notice his or her own holiness.  They do have a way of seeing God in others.  For us, much of life is “acting as if God is truly present” in the lives of others and responding to that truth until we begin to see Him.  This is not that He is ever absent, but we do not yet have eyes that see.  We cannot wait until we do see clearly, before we act.  That is why everything must be done by faith, not be feeling or seeing. Love is in the doing, but first it is in the being.  Just practice being in the Presence of the One Who made you, Who knows and loves you as you are.  Accepting this truth, and acting on it, regardless of your feelings, personal history, weaknesses or failures prepares you to do what is before you to accomplish peacefully, even joyfully, the task at hand in love.

Alleluia Cf. Jn 14:18

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord.
    I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,

because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

The prayer of Jesus on the night before He died for us is quite different from how I would pray, and how I do pray.  He prays for protection and unity for the disciples, both with him then, and you and me, now.  He prays aloud that others would become aware of the deepest desires in His heart.  Personal prayer need not be private prayer but often we do not allow others to hear our prayer.  Imagine for a moment how much it would mean for you to hear the words of your parent’s prayer for you.  You would treasure every word.  Even when we reach the age when we do not listen to what our parents say to us, we are all ears to what they say about us.  Why deny those you love the chance to hear your personal prayers for them?  Is it pride?  Is it shame?  Regardless, it is a gift worth so much more than we can imagine.  In some cultures, folks bless their children with the sign on the cross on their foreheads on a daily basis.  As nice as this is, how much greater would be the blessing if along with the gesture, heartfelt words were also offered.  Such family blessings could be shared between spouses as well.  Now that you know this, what keeps you from doing it?

Prosit,

Father John

 

 

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