7th Sunday of Easter Year B – Homily

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
John 17:11b-19
May 12, 2024

Throughout the season of Easter our first reading at Mass comes from the Acts of the Apostles.  Acts tells us the story of the early church following the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Our readings have progressed in chronological order.

Today our first reading takes a step back in time, to the same point we find ourselves today, between the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost.

As the disciples waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit they gathered together.  There were 11 eleven Apostles present when there should have been 12.  Judas had betrayed Jesus and was no longer with them.

So, in accordance with the Scripture, “May another take his office,” meaning in accordance with God’s plan, they set about selecting a new Apostle.  They knew it should be someone who accompanied them the whole time Jesus was with them.  From this they proposed two.  They did not want the selection to be of human origin.  So, they prayed, asking God, “show which one of these two you have chosen…Then they gave lots.

They wanted it to be God’s choice.  They trusted that God knew best.  They had seen his love for them in Jesus.  They wanted to share that love with one another.  To God’s love to be brought to perfect in them, they knew they needed to love one another.

Turning to our gospel reading, each year on this 7th Sunday of Easter, the gospel comes from chapter 17 of John’s Gospel.   This entire chapter is known as the high priestly prayer of Jesus.

These are Jesus’ last words before He was arrested.  “Lifting up his eyes to Heaven, Jesus prayed

Jesus knew what was about to happen.  He knew He was about to suffer greatly.  What did He pray for?  Did He pray for himself?


Jesus did not pray for himself at that moment.  He prayed for us.

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.

Keep them in your name…”  Jesus wants us to be one with God.  Jesus and the Father, along with the Holy Spirit, are one.  Jesus wants us to share in that perfect unity.

This unity is not just unity at a particular moment in time.  Jesus’ words and deeds fulfilled what Scripture had foretold.  God has had one plan all along and that plan has not changed.  It will not change. 

There are some today who want to change Church teaching.  It is not for us to change.  It is God’s Truth.  As the world changes, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us to how to apply what God has always taught to the world today.  Pope Benedict XVI said that they must be a “hermeneutic of continuity” in Church teaching.  When someone proposes a new teaching not in continuity with what has been taught in the past, we should immediately be skeptical.  Again, Catholic teaching is not ours to change.  It belongs to God.  Practices change.  The application of what God has taught develops through the Holy Spirit but the Truth does not change.

It is the word that Jesus gave us.  Jesus describes the world’s response, “and the world hated them because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.

We all need to ask ourselves, “Do I belong to the world or do I belong to Jesus?”

If you follow what the world says instead of what Jesus says, you belong to the world.  If we follow what Jesus says instead of the world, then you belong to Jesus.

I look at what is going on in the world and I “weep and mourn while the world rejoices” (see the gospel reading from Friday).  It saddens me greatly to see the world turning away from Jesus in sinning against life and embracing modern ideas like modern “gender theory.”

For now, we face the world.  Jesus said to the Father, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.”  God leaves us in this world for now but He does not abandon us.  His Word remains with us.  The Holy Spirit remains within each of us so that we may be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

In seeking to be one, in seeking unity, I want to conclude with a thought about the way we celebrate Mass.  There is a set way we celebrate Mass.  Every Catholic Church in the world proclaims the same readings today and uses some of the prayers.

There is also unity in posture.  We do not each choose when we sit, kneel, or stand.  All able-bodied people stand for the procession and introductory rights.  We all sit for the first and second readings, along with the psalm.  We all stand for the gospel.  We all sit for the homily, stand for the Creed and the Prayers of the Faithful.  We all kneel for the Eucharistic Prayer as we offer the sacrifice of Jesus.

May our unity in posture point to the unity in faith that God calls us to.

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