Seventh Sunday of Easter (B)
May 16, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








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

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers
—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons
in the one place —.
He said, “My brothers,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand
through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,
who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
He was numbered among us
and was allotted a share in this ministry.

“For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
May another take his office.

“Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men
who accompanied us the whole time
the Lord Jesus came and went among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day on which he was taken up from us,
become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

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

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


Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits. R/. 

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us. R/.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding. R/. 

Second Reading 1 JN 4:11-16

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.

Alleluia CF. JN 14:18


Gospel JN 17:11B-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

[In this selection from Cardinal Tobin’s letter on the Eucharist, he asks the following reflection questions:] 

Can the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist assume such vital necessity in our lives? Can we recover a sense of sacred time as we emerge from this pandemic? Or will work, shopping, sports and the entertainment media capture our hearts? Will we again devote ourselves to the Grace and Beauty of the Eucharist? Or will we settle for whatever distractions the world has to offer us?

One of the most serious challenges before us is the recovery of a sense of the sacred in our observance of the Lord’s Day. Sunday holds a place of honor in the Christian community because it is the day when our Lord rose from the dead. From the beginning, followers of the risen Jesus considered this day to be the holiest day of the week, and our Church rightly instructs us to make the Lord’s day holy by our attendance at Mass, by avoiding unnecessary work and by devoting our time and attention to family members and friends.

Our understanding of Sunday as sacred time is a treasured inheritance from our Jewish sisters and brothers for whom the observance of “Shabbat” (the Sabbath) is an integral dimension of Judaism’s spirituality. According to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who was a leading theologian and professor of Jewish mysticism in the mid-20th century:

There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern (The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Man).

Rabbi Heschel taught that “Spiritual life begins to decay when we fail to sense the grandeur of what is eternal in time,” and he invited all of us who want to find meaning in our lives to seek God not in places or things but in “the seed of eternity planted in the soul.” Time is sacred. For the Jewish people, “the Sabbath symbolizes the sanctification of time” just as for Christians the Lord’s Day (Sunday) represents “a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be.”

Building on the reverence for the Sabbath that was so essential for their Jewish roots, Christians discovered an even more profound meaning for the Lord’s Day. St. Gregory the Great declared: “For us, the true Sabbath is the person of our Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ.” The truth helps us to understand why a fourth-century martyr would reply to his accusers: “Sine dominico non possumus” – “we cannot live without this ‘thing of the Lord,’” referring to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Sunday, prohibited by the emperor but in which he and his companions had chosen to participate even at the cost of torture and death.

Catena Nova

We have come to the end of the period following the blessed resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This season was set up in order that our belief in the Lord’s resurrection might be strengthened by such evidence as faith can require. The truth is that Christ’s death seriously disturbed the minds and hearts of his disciples, as it may our own. They had been oppressed by the sight of his agony on the cross, his giving up the spirit and the burial of his lifeless body. Their minds were stunned and they suffered an insidious loss of confidence. When the holy women brought news of the stone rolled away, the tomb emptied and angels witnessing to his resurrection they thought it was pure raving. The Spirit of Truth had to remove all these doubts and feelings from them if they were to be preachers of the “good news”. They wavered in uncertainty and were filled with anxiety and hesitation. All this was part of God’s preparations for our own perplexities and crises of faith. We were, so to speak, in them and through were being taught how to cope with slanders and worldly wisdom. We have been instructed by their example. We have been convinced by what they saw and heard him say. We are strengthened by their touching him. We need to give thanks and be grateful to God’s providence. Their caution and their doubts are shared by us so that we may, in the end, never waver (Pope St. Leo the Great).

My Lord and my God, my joy and the hope of my heart, tell my soul if this is that joy which you spoke to us about through your Son: Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full. For I have found a fullness of joy that is more than full. It is a joy that fills the whole heart, mind, and soul, indeed it fills the whole of a person, and yet joy beyond measure still remains. The whole of that joy cannot enter into those who rejoice, but those who rejoice can enter wholly into that joy. Speak, Lord, to your servant, in the depths of my heart, tell me if this is that joy that your servants enter into when they enter into the joy of their Lord? But, of course, that joy in which your chosen ones will rejoice, neither has eye seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the human heart. So as yet, Lord, I have not spoken about or understood how greatly your blessed ones rejoice. They will rejoice as much as they love, and they will love as much as they know. How much will they know you, Lord, how much will they love you? Truly in this life, neither has eye seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the human heart, how much they will know and love you in that life (St. Anselm of Canterbury).

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. He did this due to our sins and he rose for our justification; he has ascended into heaven for our glorification. We ought then to be filled with joy for there can be no greater glorification of a human person than what we see in Jesus....Our Lord has ascended to the Father and we, like his disciples, hear this news with mingled exultation and sorrow. They exulted to know that where he had ascended they would also come to be. They exulted know his promise that “where I am they too shall come to be with me”. They exulted because of the gift of the Holy Spirit who would brace them against every temptation. They exulted because the Lord commanded them to preach the Good News to all nations. We who are mere paupers shall see our poor Lord, but we will not see him in poverty but in glory. 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).

Let us all love the Lord God with all our heart, all our soul, with all our mind and all our strength and with fortitude and total understanding, with all of our powers, with every effort, every affection, every emotion, every desire, and every wish. He has given and gives to each one of us our whole body, our whole soul, and our whole life. He created us and redeemed us, and will save us by his mercy alone. He did and does every good thing for us who are miserable and wretched, rotten and foul-smelling, ungrateful and evil. Therefore let us desire nothing else let us wish for nothing else, let nothing else please us and cause us delight except our Creator and Redeemer and Savior, the one true God…Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us or nothing come between us. Let all of us wherever we are, in every place, at every hour, at every time of day, every day and continually believe truly and humbly and keep in our heart, and love, honor, adore, serve, praise and bless, glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to the most high and supreme eternal God, Trinity and Unity: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (St. Francis of Assisi).

Some of us believe that God is all-powerful and may do everything; and that he 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).

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. It often happens, unfortunately, that those who have long served the Lord and lived in his favor, grow secure and become presumptuous. They think not only that their salvation is certain but that their service is necessary to God—though all God has done is graciously accept it. A feeling of self-importance and of self-reliance are everywhere to be avoided according to the Scriptures. 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. In this sense we are “baptized”, so to speak, for the dead. 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. From Christ comes all our strength and wisdom and success in the services to which we have been called (St. John Henry Newman).

We are to love God, then, because he loved us first. [1 Jn 4:19] The Passion on Calvary is a supreme declaration of love. It was to redeem us that you suffered so much, O Jesus. The least of your acts has infinite worth, since it is one of God’s acts, and would have been more than ample enough to redeem a thousand worlds, to redeem all possible worlds. But you suffered so much because you wanted to make us holy, to bear our burdens and to draw us into loving you freely. Loving is the most powerful way to attract love, loving is the most powerful way to make oneself loved. It is impossible for us to love him and not imitate him, to love him and not want to be the way he was, do what he did, suffer and die in torment because he suffered and died in torment. It is impossible to love him and want to be crowned with roses when he was crowned with thorns. We must love him as he has loved us (Bl. Charles de Foucauld)



Performance Review


            “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).


            Rather a far cry from the election of Matthias to replace Judas, isn’t it?  I suppose there are some 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. 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 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?  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.  One wonders 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 (Peter Scagnelli; Prayers for Sundays and Seasons)

Knowing and believing in the love God has for us, let us offer our intercessions in the name of Jesus.

That the people of God, sent into the world to bear witness, may be protected from the Evil One and sanctified in the truth.

That worldly powers who hate the word of truth and its servants may be touched and transformed by the Lord who knows every heart.

That Christians may seek out those who feel unloved or neglected and bear witness to the God who is love.

That the neophytes, numbered now among the believers, may ever abide in God by confessing that Jesus is the Son of God.

That those chosen for ministry and apostleship in the church maybe be effective witnesses to Christ’s resurrection and God’s abiding love.

That our community may bear witness that because God has loved us so we also must love one another.

That the departed who believed in Christ may have Christ’s joy made complete in them.

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)

Interlude (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.

Lord’s Prayer

United in the assembly of charity, we pray to God who is love as Jesus taught us....

Spiritual Communion

Although our joy is not complete today, Lord, because we find ourselves once again deprived of your Eucharist and apart from our brothers and sisters whom we love.  Nevertheless you have given us of your Spirit whom we invoke anew as we await the coming Pentecost and are therefore confident that we remain in you, and you in us.



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.