7th Sunday of Easter, Year B
Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26
Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20 (19a)
1 John 4:11-16
May 16, 2021
We come today between our celebration of the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost. This is the time frame in our first reading today.
The disciples had just witnessed the Ascension. Jesus had told them to wait for the coming of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. So, they waited but not in silence. There was work to be done concerning Judas.
He had been numbered among them and shared in their ministry in accord with Scripture. There was Twelve of them. The fact that there are twelve apostles is not random. Remember, twelve was also the number of tribes of Israel.
In the Jewish understanding, “twelve” signified completeness. Thus, with regards to Judas’ place among the Twelve, Peter cites Psalm 109:8, “May another take his office.”
So, Peter, as leader of the Apostles proposes naming a successor. Who should be chosen?
Peter says, “it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us” be chosen. To be an Apostle, one needed to have seen Jesus for themselves so that they might witness to what they have seen.
So, they identified two men who fit this criteria. However, they did not want to make the final selection by their own will. So, they prayed.
They prayed that the Lord would show which one He had chosen. Thus, when they drew lots, it was not leading to it chance. They were trusting in God.
Thus, it “the lot fell upon Matthias and he was counted with the eleven apostles.”
From this we have the process by which a pope is selected. There is discussion about who would make a good candidate. A human vote is taken but the process is designed with prayer. The cardinals are praying and the whole church should be praying, praying that the person God has chosen to be the next pope is selected.
With the selection of bishops, there is also a process by which priests are nominated and their qualifications reviewed. A recommendation is made to the Pope who makes the final decision but, again the whole process is designed with prayer and relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Please pray that the selection of bishops is always in accord with God’s Will.
As part of our prayer, for the election of popes, the selection of bishops, and church life in general, we do well to pray following the example of Jesus’ prayer.
He prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.”
We need to pray for unity, to be one. However, this is not just unity between humans. We need to pray that we be one with God. God has a plan. In Jeremiah 29:11 we read, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
God’s plan is not a popular plan today. That’s because God’s truth is not popular today. People want to live their lives in their own way. God does give us free will.
However, we use our freedom best not when we do what we want but when we do what we ought, when we do what is good. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Consecrate them in the truth.” God’s truth is what is good.
Remember how Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name”? To keep us in God’s name is to follow what He wills for us.
John writes, “Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.” To acknowledge that “Jesus is the Son of God” we must listen to what He says. To “remain in him” is to follow Jesus as the way and the truth and the life.