Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B
May 16, 2021
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
With all the attention we have given lately to election protocols and security, this search/election process must seem very bizarre! Casting lots in order to choose someone?! That seems so random! Judas, through his own choices, has left the flock – abandoned the ministry. He must be replaced in order to bring the full complement of disciples to twelve again. At first glance, randomly casting lots might not seem too responsible. But there are three things in place here that secure the election process. The first is absolute faith in the Holy Spirit. The disciples trust that the will of God will be done through that spirit. The second is that there are standards for those elected. Peter stipulates that the chosen one must be one who has constantly accompanied the disciples from the Baptism of John until this point in time – the Ascension. This person must be someone who has witnessed the whole ministry of Jesus, including his Resurrection. The third thing in place is the disciples’ reliance on prayer. They pray to God whom they trust to know the hearts of all people to show them the right one to select. With this trust under their belts, they follow the procedure of casting lots, and Matthias is chosen.
Faith, Standards, Prayer, Trust – do we consult these barometers when making our own leadership decisions? Do we trust that God, who knows the hearts of all, is guiding us in the selection of wise leaders through His Holy Spirit? As we consider leaders for the church, do we have the standard that they must be a witness to the ministry and Resurrection of Jesus?
The difference between the wicked and the righteous is determined by their choice. Those who choose to meditate on and do God’s laws flourish. They enjoy water, greenery and fruit. But those who do not choose God dry up and are blown away like chaff. The way of the righteous is known to the Lord.
Where are you planted? What rule do you follow – that of the council of the wicked or of the righteous? Within your heart, what do you feed – the way of the Lord or the way of unrighteousness? By what are you known to God?
Every Sunday afternoon I sit online with a Centering Prayer group. The other day we were talking about our “magnetic center,” – that place deep within us where God resides. Our magnetic center is God. The scripture tells us here that the testimony of God for those who believe is in their hearts – in their magnetic center. The author expands that whoever has this testimony of the Son has life. He is writing this so that we will have life eternal.
Take a moment to sit quietly, with your eyes closed and breathe deeply. Drop down into your magnetic center. Pay attention to where God leads you.
Jesus tells us that we have received, through Him, the words that God gave us. He also reminds us that God gave us to Him (Jesus). We belong ultimately to God but God has given us to Jesus. In this Gospel Jesus is getting ready to leave. He is much like a parent leaving a child with a babysitter for the first time – issuing a list of last-minute reminders. He reminds us to be united and prays for our unity. He asks His Father to guard and protect us as He leaves even as He guarded and protected us while He was with us. He prays for our Joy and Sanctification, even as He prepares us for Him to be absent from us.
I am reminded of another time when Jesus was absent from us – in the tomb on Holy Saturday. But this is different. On Holy Saturday, Jesus was completely absent. There was absolute emptiness and it seemed as if Death had conquered. But as Jesus prepares to leave us to return to His Father on high, there is the sense that all things will be complete. That He will be completely present. That He has triumphed over death and that He has extended His own sanctification to us. Take a moment to reflect on the meaning of Jesus ascending to Heaven and taking our humanity with Him.
O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, in glory everlasting. Amen.