Acts of the Apostles 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.
1 John 4:11-16
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
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 ore 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.”
We have celebrated the Ascension of our Lord and now our hearts and minds turn to Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. In our Catholic tradition of the Western Church, as soon as Ascension is celebrated, our hearts and our minds turn to Pentecost and the Holy Spirit.
It is not enough that Jesus goes to the Father on Ascension. We are left orphans by the Ascension. And so we call on the Father to send us help and strength. We ask for the Holy Spirit to come to us and to enlighten us and show us how to live in faith and in courage.
We hear in the first reading the account of the early Christians’ replacing Judas. There was a need, even in the early Church, for clear structures that would speak to all people about God’s presence in our world. Structures are important, no matter how much we may rebel against them at times. Structures at one level are inhuman and hurt us because they are not sensitive to us. On the other hand, none of us can live without the structures that shape our lives.
The early Church thought that the role of Judas had to be replaced. He was one of the 12 and so they chose another man to take his place in that group of 12. Today we have a group of bishops throughout the world. Those bishops are important for our Church and represent part of the structure of the Church. We also have a Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the Holy Father. He takes the role of Peter in the early Church.
All of these structures are given to us to help us remain “in the truth.” It is not easy to remain in the truth. There are so many people in our present world who claim to have the truth. But for us who follow Jesus, the first truth that we must listen to is the Church, the Pope, the Bishops, the Scriptures and all that is given to us in these sources of truth.
For us Catholics, it is the Pope who teaches us with the Bishops how to listen to the Scriptures. The Pope does not teach something other than the Scripture, but instead he teaches us the deepest meaning of the Holy Scriptures. The Pope and the Bishops are not teachers who give us teaching against the Holy Scriptures. Rather they are teachers who show us how to listen to the Scriptures and how to understand them.
Here in these days after the Ascension it is good for us to reflect on our lives as followers of Jesus Christ, followers who are Catholics and who understand the role of the Pope and the Bishops. We are not followers of the Pope nor of the Bishops. We are followers of Jesus Christ. But we trust that Jesus is working to guide us through the Pope and the Bishops so that we remain one, in communion with the Bishop of Rome and with the other Bishops in communion with the Pope.
We are consecrate in truth and we seek only to follow our Lord, Jesus Christ. May the Pope and the Bishops guide us in the way of the Lord Jesus and may we have the Holy Spirit come upon each of us so that we may give witness to God’s presence in our Holy, Catholic Church.
Let us give praise to God, our Father, to His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.