Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B, May 16, 2021
Not yet filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples of Jesus attend to some old business. In the long run, the business turns out to be unnecessary.
The writer continues to assert the connection between sound doctrine and sharing the love of God with our sisters and brothers.
John depicts Jesus as honest about the rejection that his followers expect and accept. And Jesus reassures them about their ultimate destiny.
The apostles' eagerness to fill their vacant twelfth position might make us ask what's so special about twelve. Why couldn't eleven Spirit-filled leaders have done the job? Well, twelve is the number of the tribes of ancient Israel, each historically led by a patriarch, then by a judge. These Jewish followers of Jesus are still thinking in fairly strictly Jewish terms. They've heard Jesus speak about their taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, but the import of that has not sunk in yet. They have yet to experience Pentecost, when people from all the ends of the earth are to hear these men preach as if in multiple languages. So they're still thinking in terms of fulfillment of ancient promises, not in terms of entirely new promises and prospects.
Proclaiming it: When you read this aloud, speak slowly and distinctly the phrases "concerning Judas, who was guide for those who arrested Jesus." Be sure the congregation hears the name, so they know the reason for the activities that follow. Likewise, emphasize the phrases "[Lord,] show which of these two you have chosen" and "Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias." This tells the congregation the method the apostles used to choose the candidate, which they saw as letting God make the choice.
To the best of our knowledge, the original recipients of the first letter of John were specific Christian communities,
The inspired writer, of course, wants to ease the pains caused by these rifts, and assure his readers that the saving truth is open to them and clear.
|Examining the verses of the reading in this light, we notice:|
Beloved, if God so loved us,|
we also must love one another.
|Perhaps this sentence is meant to counter point #11 of the errors of the heretics.|
|No one has ever seen God.||See point #9; to have seen God would grant one special knowledge of God. You don't need that to be saved.|
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,|
and his love is brought to perfection in us.
|Reenforces the argument against the heretics' error #11.|
This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,|
that he has given us of his Spirit.
|Reassures the faithful that they have a reliable sign that they do remain in God.|
Moreover, we have seen and testify|
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
|Contra the errors described at points #5, #6 & #12, above.|
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,|
God remains in him and he in God.
|Another refutation of error #6.|
|We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.||Summarizes the relationship between love and the knowledge of God.|
|God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.|
Proclaiming it: The author of this passage is a poetic mystic. His sentences are spare but packed with meaning. They're a challenge to the oral interpreter, which is what you are as a lector.
I would take the commas as places to pause in the middle of most sentences. The comma is like a break between an implied question and its answer. Consider:
|God loves us. So what should we do?||Love one another.|
|What happens if we love one another?||God remains in us.|
|How do we know God remains in us?||God has given us the Spirit.|
|What happens to those who acknowledge Jesus as Son of God?||They remain in God and God remains in them.|
|What is God?||God is love.|
|What happens to those who remain in love?||God remains in them and they remain in God.|
Above all, read these gems s-l-o-w-l-y, giving them time to "sink in" to the minds and hearts of those listening to your. It's also quite acceptable to command their attention by pausing at length between the time you reach the lectern and the moment you begin to speak. If you start talking while the altar server is scurrying to put the sacramentary in place, and the people are still settling into their seats or flipping through the misallette for today's page, you're implying that what you have to say is of minor importance.
Credit for the picture at the top:
Mural at Chimayo [New Mexico, U.S.A.] - Gathering to Worship, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54346 [retrieved May 8, 2015]. Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/2744904354/in/set-72157606611500226/.
This page updated April 3, 2021