28 May 2017: Seventh Sunday of Easter

Celebration Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Ascension: Acts 1:1-11 Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9 Eph 1:17-23 Mt 28:16-20
7 Sunday of Easter: Acts 1:12-14 Ps 27:1, 4, 7-8 1 Pt 4:13-16 Jn 17:1-11a
Lectionary note
 The Lectionary presents two sets of readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Dioceses that celebrate the Ascension on Ascension Thursday use the readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Dioceses that celebrate the Ascension on the Seventh Sunday of Easter use the Ascension readings. This reflection uses the Seventh Sunday of Easter readings.

The resurrected life: Jesus’ prayer for disciples

White_gold_banner_sm Throughout the Easter season, the Sunday readings ask us, the believing community, to examine the meaning of the resurrection. This week the readings invite us to consider how prayer shapes us and our believing community.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus tells the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit comes. They return to the upper room and pray. Luke provides a roll-call of the believing community: the eleven (witnesses to Jesus’ public ministry), “some women” (witnesses to Jesus’ burial and empty tomb), Mary (witness to Jesus’ birth and youth), and Jesus’ brothers. Through prayer, these few prepare to witness the ekklesia‘s birth at Pentecost.

In the second reading from Peter’s first letter, the author continues last week’s theme of patience in the face of unjust harassment. “Rejoice,” he tells his readers when you are mistreated “because you proclaim Christ’s name.” You are blessed because the Father’s glory (eternal life) rests on you.

In John’s gospel, Jesus concludes his final discourse at the Last Supper. John uses a circular or spiral narrative form that allows Jesus to introduce and connect several ideas. Jesus’ ideas include the glory shared by the Father and the son, the son’s glory of eternal life to believers, the son’s completed work (salvation), the disciples’ knowing and believing in Jesus and the Father, Jesus’ prayer for present and future disciples, and the disciples glorifying the son. This reflection examines glory and Jesus’ prayer:

  • Glory. The Greek word δοξάζω (docks-AHd-zoh) means “to honor” or “to glorify.” Glory is John’s word for Jesus’ transforming death and resurrection. The Father glorified the son by bringing about the signs or work that the son performed in the Father’s name. The son glorified the Father by completing the work (salvation) the Father gave him. Having brought the disciples to faith and eternal life, Jesus is glorified by the disciples.
  • Jesus’ prayer. This is the climax of Jesus’ last discourse. Jesus speaks as intercessor, addressing the Father directly, while the disciples listen in. In his prayer of petition, Jesus prays first for the mutual glorification of Father and son (Jn 17:1-8); then, for his present disciples in their mission to the world (Jn 17:9-19); and finally, for all disciples to remain united with one another and with God (Jn 17:20-26).

Jesus’ resurrection has many meanings and many implications. The church’s Easter season gives us six weeks to reflect on this one cosmos-changing event. Jesus reveals himself in the witness of his disciples, in the liturgy, in the sacraments, and in our own personal encounters with the Lord. The readings remind us that prayer is the foundation of our remaining-in-relationship with God. Prayer–both words and actions–unites us to God and each other. Do we ask God to know God’s work for us, or do we tell God the work we want to do? Do our prayerful words and actions reflect God’s glory, or our own?

—Terence Sherlock


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