Seventh Sunday of Easter
- Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
- 1 John 4:11-16
- John 17:11-19
Thoughts for your consideration:
This week’s scriptures takes us through that transitional period between the Ascension and Pentecost. In Acts we find the Apostles attempting to redefine themselves in the midst of this transition. One of the great Passionist scripture scholars, Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller, CP, tells us in his commentaries on these readings the significance of maintaining the apostolic number at 12. The early disciples struggled to maintain their Jewish identity as representatives of the 12 tribes of Israel in connection with the new Covenant that was established by Christ. At this point of the early Christian history the Apostles and disciples of Jesus saw themselves more clearly as a renewal movement of their Jewish faith versus a new religion altogether. Keep in mind that it wasn’t until St. Paul really engaged the Gentile community into this movement decades later that the term Christian is first coined.
Our early Christian ancestors had quite an identity struggle and a challenging transition, especially from the moment that Christ ascended into heaven till the time that the Holy Spirit fortified them with wisdom and courage. While the first reading offers us an account of at least one significant event that took place at this time the other reading from the epistle of St. John offers us a core value to how the early community members were expected to treat each. Consistent with the central message of the Gospel St. John reminds the community that they are to live with each other in a way that models the love that God has with them and the love that they have to each other. This of course is based on the special relationship that we have in being witnesses to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The Gospel passage from John offers us an amazing prayer that Jesus recites requesting God to protect these disciples of his who are to remain in this world after he is gone. He is praying for divine protection and wisdom, especially during this transition.
Transitions are hardly ever easy. Momentous transitions such as this are earth shattering. This group needed to redefine themselves completely in the context of their relationship to each other as well as in their relationship to the greater society. Our own society is in a great period of transition. One of the significant marks of this period is the phenomenon that is called globalization. This phenomenon is forcing us to make some significant changes in our lives, especially with regards to how we conduct our various social relationships including politics, culture and economics.
The three readings offer us some insight into how to handle these transitions as a community dedicated to a God who calls us into relationship. The Gospel offers us the insight of truth. In Jesus’ prayer to God, it is truth more than anything else that will fortify us. We must be open to the truth of how God’s creation is being affected by the decisions that are made. We are called to this even if the truth will turn the world against us. The epistle of John offers the insight of love. In the midst of these transitions we are called to be supportive of each other through the powerful expression of a love that is compassionate to one another. And with the reading from Acts we are given the insight of collaboration. The way forward is going to come about as we make decision based on mutual collaboration with one another. We may not agree with every opinion that exist and every decision that is being made but if we can collaborate in a way whereby we respect each other and in turn we are being respected then we honor the prayer that Jesus offered to God where he hopes that we “may be one” just as he and the Father are “one.”
Questions for Reflection with your faith sharing group:
- Identify some personal transitions that have occurred in your life. How have you successfully addressed some of these moments? How does your faith assist you in times like these? Do you see your own moments of transition related to the greater social changes that are taking place?
- How do you think Joseph called Barsabbas felt about losing the opportunity to become the 12th Apostle? How have you dealt with difficult decisions? How challenging is it for you to accept the will of the group if it goes against your own interest?