Seventh Sunday of Easter
1) Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26
Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20
2) 1 Jn 4:11-16
Gospel: Jn 17:11b-19
In announcing a Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis drew attention to the virtues of the saintly carpenter of Nazareth. Joseph, foster father of Jesus and husband of Mary, was the man chosen by God and entrusted with the responsibility of providing for the needs and protection of the Holy Family.
Joseph faced many challenges and trials as he wrestled with the mystery of Mary’s motherhood, protected the infant Jesus from the murderous rage of Herod and raised Jesus, God’s divine son, during the hidden years of his earthly life.
Pope Francis notes that St. Joseph was a man of steadfast faith, creative courage and love in action. In the face of problems, Joseph turned difficulties into moments of God’s grace and providential care.
These virtues are highlighted in the readings of this Sunday, which call our attention to how we might grow in steadfast faith, courageous hope and the love of God by which God remains in us always.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see Peter as the leader of the disciples, speaking and acting in the power of the Holy Spirit as he ensures the unity of faith among the first Christian communities.
Every successor of Peter carries out the same role of maintaining the unity that Jesus prays for in the Gospel: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.”
In relying on the Holy Spirit, Peter leads the community in deciding who would replace Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus in the hour of his agony in the garden.
Matthias is chosen and added to the disciples who will soon become apostles, that is, those sent out to the ends of the earth to proclaim boldly the life-transforming message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
The heart of the Gospel is summed up in the second reading: “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
Jesus is the visible face of God’s invisible love. In Jesus, we encounter the merciful and eternal love of God. As we remain close to Jesus, in his word and sacraments, we live in the power of God’s love.
In the Gospels, Jesus enters into deep communion with his heavenly Father. He retreats to pray in places of solitude on mountains, lakes and in deserts. In today’s Gospel, we are privileged to hear Jesus’ words of prayer to his heavenly Father.
What a gift of faith it is to know not only where Jesus prayed but to hear his words in the intimacy of his conversation with God!
As we listen to the words of Jesus who prays for each one of us who are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, may we find wisdom and creative courage to pray, “speak to me, Lord.”
How do you contribute to the unity of the church that Jesus prayed for?
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Sullivan is a professor at The Catholic University of America.