A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
(Chapter 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26)
There were originally 12 apostles seen by some as representing the 12 tribes of Israel that Jesus wanted to reunite. With the tragic suicide of Judas, there were only eleven. The apostles knew that the mission of Jesus was to proclaim the reign of God over Israel, and they wanted to have the same number of apostles moving forward. Notice that Peter once again is the leader as they choose a man named Matthias by lot.
“The Lord has set his throne in heaven.” The Jewish people thought of God as a benevolent king with a throne someplace above them. We learned in the ministry of Jesus that God lives not only in heaven but also in us and all around us.
A reading from the first letter of St. John
(Chapter 1 John 4: 11-16)
Have you noticed that we have been reading this first Letter of Saint John each Sunday since Easter? Why has the Church chosen this piece of scripture? First of all, because it focuses on what is most important in our faith, that “God is love.” John says it over and over again. It is a tragedy that this fundamental truth was lost or put on the back burner for so many centuries. What a great gift today that we hear it said each Sunday after Easter and that we also hear the truth that many of us never heard as children “that he has given us of his Spirit.” Yes, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are never alone. God is with us, especially in our darkest, most troubled times. Of course, we have to accept this amazing gift, but even when we are unaware of this presence or try to hide from the Spirit we are still pursued and totally loved.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 17: 11b-19)
Here is a powerful prayer from Jesus: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one…. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.” Imagine that—we are to be one just as Jesus and his Father are one. This is truly a radical change from the relationship that the Jewish people had with God, whose name could not even be spoken. There was certainly reverence for God but also distance, a God who was totally other. The Aramaic word that Jesus used to refer to his Father was “abba” translated as “daddy.” Talk about being close! That, of course, is the whole point. God is not distant from us but close to us, within us. Many of us did not grow up hearing those words. Let us rejoice in them now.
Photo: Iam Os on Unsplash
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.