Gospel Reflection: Seventh Sunday of Easter

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.


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.”


In recent weeks, the Sunday readings have expressed Our Lord’s great care for us, His invitation to remain always in His Love, and His promise to save us. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear Our Lord’s beautiful prayer to the Father that His disciples be shielded from evil, consecrated in truth, and made one.

From the depths of His Heart, Our Lord gave us the Church to ensure this. He established a family of faith in which we, as His disciples, would be united in His Love and would receive the Sacraments and the Word of God to sustain us on our path towards Heaven. He is clear that we do not belong to this world. Instead, we belong to Him and remain in Him through the Church’s life. Nourished by the Sacraments and the truths of the faith, we are sent then into the world to evangelize, to bring the Light of Christ to each other and to our community.

So that this family of faith would remain strong and protected from harm, Our Lord entrusted Her to the leadership of the Twelve Apostles, whose successors continue this work today. The First Reading describes the process in the early life of the Church for choosing one to share in this Apostolic Ministry and to be a “witness to His Resurrection.” Among the brothers, Peter is shown as a leader in this selection, which continues today in the Holy Father as the Successor of Peter. The Church’s unbroken connection to Saint Peter and the Apostles gives us great confidence in our ability to authentically remain in Christ today.

It sometimes can be tempting to view the Church as a mere institution among many in society, rather than as the family of faith described here. Indeed, the Church is a great gift and mystery for us. We give thanks to God to be members of the Church through our Baptism. We also pray for our Catholic family of faith, that it may always be guided by good and faithful shepherds to build up the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” Church as a true Light for the world.

Please be assured of my prayers for you before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+ Bishop Schlert


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