Seventh Sunday of Easter (B)
May 12, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Rite of Sprinkling





Graciously hear our supplications, O Lord,
so that we, who believe that the Savior of the human race
is with you in your glory,
may experience, as he promised,
until the end of the world,
his abiding presence among us.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading ACTS 1:15-17, 20A, 20C-26

In those days Peter stood up among the believers; together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons. He said, 16 “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let another take his position of overseer.’ 21 “So one of the men who accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us— one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20

R/. The Lord has set his throne in heaven.

Second Reading 1 JN 4:11-16

Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Alleluia CF. JN 14:18


Gospel JN 17:11B-19

Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed: 11 “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 “But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 “They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”

Catena Nova

We read in the Acts of the Apostles that the whole company of believers was united in heart and soul in a unity that came from the Spirit. Paul also says the same thing. There is one body and one spirit. We who are many form one body in Christ, for we all partake of the one loaf, and we have all been anointed by the one Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ. And so, since the disciples were to form one body and to share in one and the same Spirit, Christ wished them to be preserved in unimpaired spiritual unity, unbroken concord. It may be thought that in this respect the unity of the disciples resembles that of the Father and the Son, who are united not only in substance, but also in will (for in the holy nature of God there is in everything one will and one intention). To think thus is permissible and not mistaken, for although we are not consubstantial with one another as are the Father and the Word that proceeds from him and is in him, in their deepest desires true Christians are seen to be united.  (St Cyril of Alexandria)
On the fortieth day, at his Ascension into Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ entrusted us with the body in which he would remain among us here below. He saw the many would honor him because of his Ascension but this honor would be worthless because at the same time they were trampling on his members. He wanted to prevent the error of worshiping the heavenly Christ and simultaneously trampling on the earthly Christ. Do you remember his words to St. Paul: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Christ has ascended into Heaven but he remains on earth in the members of his body. We have his last words on earth as he was about to ascend. The Head of the Body that is Christ entrusted to us the other member of the Body. They are on earth. Yes, you can no longer find Christ speaking to you on earth but will hear only words from Heaven. Why does he speak to us from Heaven? He does it to complain that we are trampling on his feet, on the members of his body here on earth, at the same time we praise him. That is why he spoke to Paul, the persecutor, as he did. What does he say to us? Here I am at the Heavenly Father’s right hand, he says, but I am still hungry and thirsty and without shelter. You see how Christ entrusted to us the members of his Body that are still on earth and at the very moment of ascending
into Heaven! (St. Augustine of Hippo)
For more than forty days we have kept before our minds and hearts the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we have to direct our attention to his call to prepare to follow him. He is preparing to raise us up to our homeland, to heaven…. We shall see him as he truly is. We can listen to insults unperturbed. We can bear patiently with persecutions. We can be silent when evil is said against us. Our only concern is to remain attached to our God with our whole heart and our whole mind and our entire strength. Our task is to live as befits members of that Head. Our objective is to fix our minds on God and on that marvelous place where our Christ is. Let all our devotion be directed to Jesus Christ and where He is, seated at the right hand of God. Where he is we are to be. The only requisite is love (St. Aelred of Rievaulx).
Some of us believe that God is all-powerful and may do everything; and that is all wise and can do everything; but as for believing he is all love and will do everything, there we hold back. In my view nothing hinders God’s lovers more than the failure to understand this (Julian of Norwich).
When the inmost part of the heart and the source of life have been wounded by love, and one cannot obtain that which one desires above all things, but must ever abide where one does not wish to be: from these two things pain comes forth. Here Christ is risen to the zenith of the conscience, and He sends His Divine rays into the hungry desires and into the longings of the heart; and this splendour burns and dries up and consumes all the moisture, that is, the strength and the powers of nature. The desire of the open heart, and the shining of the Divine rays, cause a perpetual pain.  (Bl. John Ruysbroeck)
A reflection rises in our minds if we consider carefully the election of St. Matthias. It is the thought that God may so very easily bring about his purposes without us. God may so easily put others in our place, if we are disobedient to Him…. This is emphasized most especially by the replacement of Judas by Matthias. What sort of solemn and even overwhelming thoughts must have crowded the mind of St. Matthias when he was greeted by the eleven apostles as their peer and given a place among them? His very election would be a witness against him if he didn’t fulfill the office rightly. And that will surely be true for us as well, whatever the offices with which we are entrusted. We take the place of others who have gone before us, as Matthias did…. We fill up the ranks in the army of those who have fought the good fight before us, but also those places occupied by persons who have failed in their calling.... Let us, both as a Church, and as a community, and as individuals, look one and all to God who alone can keep us from failing or falling. Let us with single hearts look up to Christ our Savior and put ourselves into his hands. (St. John Henry Newman).

The ascension is the universal event of salvation history that must recur in each individual, in our personal salvation history through grace. When we become poor, then we become rich. When the lights of the world grow dark, then we are bathed in light. When we are apparently estranged from the nearness of his earthly flesh, then we are the more united with him. When we think we feel only a waste and emptiness of the heart, when all the joy of celebrating appears to be only official fuss, because the real truth around us cannot yet be admitted, then we are in truth better prepared for the feast of the Ascension than we might suppose.  He takes on our semblance only to give us his own reality - the eternal, inexpressible reality that he received from the Father, that he gives us in his Spirit, and that we can receive because he, returning home with all this is ours, made it possible for us to share in God's own life. (Karl Rahner)


     The diocese in which I reside is awaiting a new bishop, the incumbent having reached 75 year of age in 2021.  The manner of choosing a successor was a topic that came up during last year's first session of the Synod on Synodality.  Its Synthesis Report noted how, "The Assembly calls for a review of the criteria for selecting candidates for the episcopate, balancing the authority of the Apostolic Nuncio with participation of Episcopal Conferences. There are also requests to expand consultation with the faithful People of God, and to involve a greater number of lay people and consecrated persons in the consultation process, taking care to avoid being put under any undue pressure in the selection process."  The topic is also under consideration by the various Study Groups Pope Francis has set up "to explore the theological, pastoral and canonical aspects of some of the thorniest questions raised during the synod listening sessions and discussed at the first synod assembly last October."

     A few months before the current bishop tendered his resignation as required by canon law, an article I read noted how,  “Most bishops are appointed without ever knowing they were being considered for the job and are caught by surprise when chosen. The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world, shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve. Those who are consulted about possible candidates are required to return the list of questions they’ve been sent, because even the questions, which reveal no particulars about a candidate, are protected under the Vatican’s top confidentiality classification: the 'pontifical secret’.” (Inside the Vatican podcast; April 22, 2021).    Looks like the relevant Study Group has its work cut out for it.

     It's all a rather a far cry from the election of Matthias to replace Judas, isn’t it?  I suppose there are good reasons to avoid a public spectacle in naming a bishop. But if there’s anything to the old dictum, Vox populi, vox Dei, then notable by its absence is any role accorded the laity in this process – unlike the election of Matthias where the whole community, and not only the apostles, was involved in discerning worthy candidates.  Lost in the mists of history are the words of the bishop of Carthage, St. Cyprian (+258): “Divine authority is the source for the practice whereby bishops are chosen in the presence of the laity and before the eyes of all, and they are judged as being suitable and worthy after public scrutiny and testimony.” Likewise those of St. Hippolytus (+235) who left us a record of ancient ordination rituals: “Let the bishop be ordained after he has been chosen by all the people; when he has been named and shall please all, let him, with the presbytery and such bishops as may be present, assemble with the people on Sunday. While all give their consent, the bishops shall lay hands upon him.” Pope Celestine (+432) would later declare, “Let a bishop not be imposed upon the people whom they do not want while Pope Leo (+461) would further affirm, “He who has to preside over all must be elected by all.”

     And let’s not forget how one of the greatest bishops, St. Ambrose of Milan, was chosen by acclamation as the people of God gathered for his election when the unexpected cry, “Ambrose, bishop!” went up from the crowd.  Even popes could be elected that way once upon a time “as if by inspiration of the Holy Spirit” -- the last one being Innocent XI in 1676. Nor should we forget how Ambrose’s protégé, St. Augustine, was a layman when he was chosen bishop of Hippo. Laymen can also be elected pope, the last one being Leo X in 1513.  Maybe casting lots should still be an option.

     But how might the vox Dei be more reliably, and realistically, be discerned even within the current process?  Well, the first account of choosing a successor to the apostles lends a clue: the candidate must be a “witness to the resurrection.”  In other words, someone who is effective in showing how belief in the Lord’s victory over death transforms a person into a model of hope and joy.   St. John suggests a second criterion: charity should be a hallmark of someone set apart for the apostolic ministry.  Of course, that’s true for all Christians, but how much for one who presides over the assembly of charity.

     Now I have no idea what that list of questions contains that forms part of the profile of potential candidates for bishop in the early stages of the selection process, but I wonder if the initial vetting asks things like: Is there a history of hands-on service to the poor? Of pastoral experience over and beyond a degree in canon law?  Of social justice advocacy, and active support of charitable organizations?  Any service on boards of directors of the same?  Is there a history of preaching on the social teaching of the church?  Does the quality of leadership in previous assignments include outreach to the marginalized and a “preferential option for the poor?” In other words, are there signs of “going to the peripheries” to use a favored expectation of Pope Francis for church leaders?

     Then there’s Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” during the Last Supper which occupies several chapters of John’s Gospel. While not wanting to limit its scope, the prayer can be thought of as the consecration of those present to the apostolic ministry of the Twelve. And what qualifications emerge in this text for church leadership?  Today’s passage contains a few.  One might inquire, for example, if a candidate is a person who has promoted unity in the local church.  Is there a history of collaborative ministry and cordial relationships with colleagues, including the laity, or has there been a divisive and polarizing attitude that separates people into “camps” whether in the parish or diocese?  In other words, does past service exhibit openness to a synodal style in accord with Pope Francis vision for the church? Is there evidence of promoting ecumenical and interfaith relations?  Is there a passion for the truth that isn’t narrow or defensive, one that is open to more than personal convictions and preferences? What continuing education has the candidate pursued?  What has been the engagement with “the world?”  Is this person overly “churchy” with little experience outside the clerical world?  Is this person capable of genuine outreach to those who are distant from the church, those who are alienated and indifferent?  Or has there mostly been a concern for “in-house” issues?

    For some time now, I have thought the Catholic Church is in for a bishop shortage – the inevitable consequence of the declining number of priests and their ever-lengthening average age.  The shrinking pool from which bishops will be appointed raises questions about the number of viable candidates the church will have going forward.  Many of the younger clergy seem to be more “sacristy than periphery-minded,” crusaders for a somewhat selective “orthodoxy,” preoccupied with traditional devotions, however laudable, and having a decided fondness for antique liturgical forms and the accompanying clerical couture.  I recently saw a live-streamed Mass in which the young celebrant was wearing a maniple — a handkerchief-like vestment identified with the Tridentine Mass — which he moved once he began the homily.  A throwback to the time when preaching was considered a "lawful interruption of the Mass" rather than an integral part of the liturgy.  So I have to wonder if the ambitious among them – another reason to bring back the straws – aren’t preparing more for leading the church in the 16th rather than the 21st Century.   St. Matthias, pray for us.    

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that, empowered by the Spirit, we may faithfully give witness to the Gospel and continue Christ’s mission of bringing hope and healing to all.

For all who are awaiting the gift of the Holy Spirit: that their hearts may be open and their spirits receptive to all the gifts of God.

For the grace to be fearless: that we may follow God’s call confidently and trust that God will guide and protect us through all challenging situations.

For those who face the future with apprehension and uncertainty: that God will enlighten their path and give them peace.

For all nations and their leaders: that the reign of peace and justice of God's rule may inspire all who lead and govern to recognize the dignity of each person and promote the common good.

For greater unity in the Church: that we may be one in faith, one in hope, and one in the peace of the Holy Spirit.

For all who work to bring food to our tables: that God will bless them with seasonable weather and a bountiful harvest.

For the unmasking of racism: that God will help us recognize the variety of forms which discrimination takes and give us the courage to defeat it.

For the gift of peace: that the reign of Christ will open new opportunities for dialogue and inspire them to work for justice and the preservation of life.

Father most holy, look upon this people whom you have sanctified by the dying and rising of your Son. Keep us one in love and consecrate us in your truth,  that the new life you have given us  may bring us to the fullness of joy. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn (Michael Joncas)


God is love, and all who live in love abide in God,
and God abides in them.

The love of Christ has gathered us as one: In him let us rejoice; in him let us be glad. Let us revere and love the living God.

With heart and mind and soul now let s love sincerely.

Therefore as now we gather into one, Let discord find no place, nor hatred rule our hearts.

Let evil deeds and bitter words now cease, Christ stay in our midst and dwell with us forever.

Then with the saints let us behold your face, A light with glory, Christ, our brother ad our God.

And may this joy, unbounded and immense, Fulfill our hearts' desire through ages without ending.

Communion Antiphon


ClosingHymn (John Rutter)


Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted;
support the weak;
help the afflicted;
honour everyone;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.