Easter 7B

Thoughts on Sunday’s Lessons for May 12, 2024 (Easter 7B)

Tirage nomination de saint Matthias (Election of St. Matthias by drawing lots),

Tirage nomination de saint Matthias (Election of St. Matthias by drawing lots), 12th century painting in the parish church of the vallée de l’Aisne, France. (Click image to enlarge.)

First Reading: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Our readings for the last Sunday after Easter mark a pause in time, a moment when the world is about to turn. Our first reading from Acts finds the apostles gathering just after Jesus has ascended into heaven, lifted up into a cloud. Next week, on Pentecost Sunday, we will hear of the Holy Spirit coming down like wind and fire, inspiring the apostles to take the Gospel into the world. But now, as they ask God’s guidance for an uncertain future, they cast lots and choose Matthias to take the place in their numbers left by the departure of Judas, the traitor who betrayed Jesus.

Psalm: Psalm 1

The first of the Psalms begins the book with a promise: Happiness awaits those who walk in the way of God. The 150 Psalms, the ancient hymns of the Jerusalem temple, sing an emotional range from joy to fear to anger to sadness to thanksgiving, but the joy of following God provides a recurring bass line. Psalm 1 also celebrates delight in the law, the Torah, understood not as mere regulation but God’s holy teaching: God showing us how to live in love of God and neighbor.

Second Reading: 1 John 5:9-13

Our Eastertide voyage through the first Letter of John concludes this week in its last chapter. This letter is thought to have been written in the spirit of John’s Gospel by members of the Johannine community decades after the Gospel. Its consistent, uplifting theme assures us in these verses that we gain eternal life through God’s love given us in Jesus: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Gospel: John 17:6-19

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus spends the night before his crucifixion praying in the Garden of Gethsemane while the apostles wait and try not to fall asleep. John’s Gospel offers a very different account. In this telling we hear Jesus talking to his disciples after the last supper. Jesus prays for them, preparing them to move ahead after he has gone . Having protected and guarded the apostles – losing only Judas from the flock – Jesus asks God to protect them. Jesus will send them out into the world, as God had sent Jesus out into the world.

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