Next Person Up
The Seventh Sunday of Easter 2021
May 16, 2021
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Acts 1:15-26; Psalm 103; 1 John 4:11-16; John 17:11-19
Preceding Pentecost, Scripture required that the assembly of Apostles be complete, reconstituting the Apostles as the Twelve Tribes of Jacob. Therefore, the vacancy left by Judas Iscariot was filled by Matthias. The choice of the Holy Spirit was not a random event, but one that ratified the steadfast discipleship of Matthias because he was a follower of Jesus from the beginning of his Galilean ministry and witnessed the baptism of Jesus. He traveled with the disciples and experienced the Resurrection. Matthias was well qualified to step as a responsible Apostle and to bring about the wholeness and holiness of the new community’s leadership. He was the next person up.
Like Matthias, it is right that we step up with our authority when asked and to be ready to go just as we are. We are Christ’s disciples, and in the Gospel, he gives us the charge to love one another and keep everyone unified through our words and actions. The Gospel’s prayer is that we become one community united in Jesus, and this united is difficult when there are many societal pressures upon us and differing viewpoints. The goal of our discipleship is that all people of goodwill become one.
Can unity be achieved? Pope Francis talks about creating a culture of encounter because the world’s cohesiveness is severely fractured. He speaks of a world in which people of goodwill, that is ‘us,’ and others who are not like us, need to reflect upon our social engagement in order to create the possibilities of common commitment that is assisted by skilled dialogue. It begins with the fundamental belief that all human beings are created equal in rights, duties, and dignity and that we take care of one another and our neighbor. Today’s Gospel is designed to hold each person who calls upon name of God in honor and reverence. This sounds more than acceptable when it is read, but it is quite a challenge to live out in real life. It requires us to be open – open to growth, and to an increase of love – in areas where we do not think it is necessary.
As we acknowledge the dignity of each person, we can then contribute to the build-up of a universal dream for social balance and cohesiveness. Dreams are not achieved by individual desires and abilities. As an individual, we create mirages and illusions that do not serve us well, and a maturing person must put an end to illusions, but a community that supports and enables, figures out how to help each other and to move onwards and upwards. It takes a village to raise a single child. It takes villages to actualize our dreams, especially if they are our shared goals, such as the unity spoken of in the Gospel. Dreams are built together; we dream together; we are created to dream. So, let us reflect upon how we can be open to the dreams and dignity of others, and consider how we might need to make adjustments in order to contribute to the overall common good. It might mean putting our cherished individual rights aside in order to focus upon our responsibility to one another and to God’s kingdom. Let us see ourselves as part of a larger human family in our common home, each bringing the richness of one’s own beliefs and convictions, each with one’s own voice, that contributes to the betterment of our shared world, so that “they may be one, just as we are one.”
Scripture for Daily Mass
Monday: (Acts 19) Paul went through the interior of Greece and down to Ephesus to introduce the believers to the Holy Spirit. The community was baptized into the Body of Christ.
Tuesday: (Acts 20) The presbyters at Ephesus summoned Paul, who told them that he was going to an uncertain fate in Jerusalem. Paul recounts the ways he served the Lord with humility, tears, and trials, but imprisonment and hardships await him.
Wednesday: (Acts 20) Paul prays for the whole flock and he prays for them because he knows adversaries will take advantage of Paul’s absence. When Paul finished speaking, the people wept loudly and threw their arms around him and kissed him.
Thursday: (Acts 22) Paul is brought to trial. The Pharisees and Sadducees are sharply divided; armed forces rescue Paul from their midst. The Lord tells Paul he must go to Rome and be faithful there the same way he was faithful in Jerusalem.
Friday (Acts 25) King Agrippa hears Paul’s case and determines that Paul is to be tried in Jerusalem, but Paul, as a Roman citizen, appeals for the Emperor’s decision.
Saturday (Acts 28) When Paul entered Rome, he was allowed to live by himself. He called together the leaders of the Jews to let them know the charges brought against them. He told them his story. He remained for two years in his lodgings and received all who came to him without hindrance as he proclaimed the Kingdom of God.
Monday: (John 16) The disciples realize Jesus is returning to the Father and that he is strengthening them for the time when he will not longer be physically with them.
Tuesday: (John 17) Jesus raises his eyes to heaven and realizes it is time to glorify the Father through his death so he may give eternal life to all that we given to him. He revealed God’s name to them and now it is time to see the glory of God revealed.
Wednesday (John 17) Jesus prays for the safety of those given to him. He wants them to be safe as they testify to God’s steadfastness in a harsh world. He prays for unity, “so that they may be one just as we, Father, are one.”
Thursday (John 17) Jesus consecrates them to the truth and wards off the Evil One. He also prays for those given to him through the testimony of others. The love Jesus and the Father share is available to future disciples.
Friday (John 21) After the Farewell Discourse ends, Jesus appears at the seashore with Simon Peter who professes his three-fold love of Jesus. Jesus forgives him and asks him to care for his people even though the authorities of this world will eventually have their day with him.
Saturday (John 21) Peter turns to Jesus and asks about the Beloved Disciple. Jesus retorts, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?” This disciple is the one who wrote the testimony about Jesus and can attest to its truth.
Saints of the Week
May 16: Andrew Bobola, S.J., priest martyr (1591-1657), is called the Martyr of Poland because of his excruciatingly painful death. He worked during a plague to care for the sick, but he became "wanted" by the Cossacks during a time when anti-Catholic and anti-Jesuit sentiment was high. His preaching converted whole villages back to Catholicism and he was hunted down because he was termed a "soul-hunter."
May 18: John I, pope and martyr (d. 526), was a Tuscan who became pope under the rule of Theodoric the Goth, an Arian. Theodoric opposed Emperor Justin I in Constantinople who persecuted Arians. John was sent to Justin to end the persecutions. He returned to great glory, but Theodoric was not satisfied, though Justin met all his demands. John was imprisoned and soon died because of ill treatment.
May 20: Bernardine of Siena, priest, (1380-1444) was from a family of nobles who cared for the sick during plagues. He entered the Franciscans and preached across northern and central Italy with homilies that understood the needs of the laity. He became vicar general and instituted reforms.
May 21: Christopher Magallanes, priest and companions, martyrs (1869-1927) was a Mexican priest who served the indigenous people by forming agrarian communities. He opened seminaries when the ant-Catholic government kept shutting them down. He was arrested and executed with 21 priests and 3 laymen.
May 22: Rita of Cascia, religious (1381-1457), always wanted to become a nun but her family married her off to an abusive man. He was murdered 18 years later. Rita urged forgiveness when her two sons wanted to avenge their father's murder. They soon died too. Rita wanted to enter a convent, but he marital status kept her out. Eventually, the Augustinians in Cascia admitted her. She became a mystic and counselor to lay visitors.
This Week in Jesuit History
- May 16, 1988. In Paraguay, Pope John Paul II canonizes Roque Gonzalez, Alfonso Rodriguez, and Juan del Castillo.
- May 17, 1572. Pope Gregory XIII exempted the Society from choir and approved simple vows after two years of novitiate and ordination before solemn profession. In these matters he reversed a decree of St Pius V.
- May 18, 1769. The election of Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli as Pope Clement XIV. He was the pope who suppressed the Society.
- May 19, 1652. Birth of Paul Hoste mathematician and expert on construction of ships and history of naval warfare.
- May 20, 1521. Ignatius was seriously wounded at Pamplona, Spain, while defending its fortress against the French.
- May 21, 1925. Pius XI canonizes Peter Canisius, with Teresa of the Child Jesus, Mary Madeleine Postal, Madeleine Sophie Barat, John Vianney, and John Eudes. Canisius is declared a Doctor of the Church.
- May 22, 1965. Pedro Arrupe was elected the 28th general of the Society of Jesus.