Thursday, May 14, 2009

The only command I give you is this: Love one another.

Since Monday, we have been reading from Chapters 14 and 15 of the Acts of the Apostles, about the missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas to a part of the world that Luke, in Acts, calls “Asia”; that the medieval geographers called “Asia Minor”, and that the people who live there now call, “Anatolia”. It is the westernmost part of the continent of Asia, and it constitutes the greater part of the country of Turkey, from the east bank of the Bosporus to the borders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran.

In today’s reading, we go back to Chapter 1, to the first order of business on the agenda of the group we know as “The Twelve”: the election of a replacement for Judas Iscariot, who was no longer one of them.

Place: The Upper Room, Jerusalem

Date: The third day before the beginning of the Feast of Weeks

Present: Peter, John, James, Andrew; Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew: James son of Alpheus, Simon called the Zealot, and Jude, son of James.

Also in attendance: Mary, the mother of Jesus, and others, a total of approximately 120.

Peter, presiding, takes the floor:
Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David, concerning Judas Iscariot, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of us, and shared in this ministry. It is written in the book of Psalms, “May his dwelling place be deserted, and let there be no one to fill it”, and “May another take his place of leadership.”

Now it is necessary to chose one among the men who have been with us from the outset, since the Lord Jesus came and went in our midst, starting at the time of John’s baptism, until the time when Jesus was taken up from us. One of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

The assembly then deliberated and proposed two men: Joseph, called Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Mathias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs."
Finally, they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Signed and submitted: Luke, secretary to the Twelve.


Today’s gospel, a segment of Jesus’ “Farewell Address” to his disciples before he rose into heaven, reminds us that, like the original twelve, and like Mathias, we have all been chosen to follow him:

Just as the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.
You will remain in my love if you obey my commandments,
just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I am telling you this so that my joy will be in you, and your joy will be complete.

My message to you is this: Love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love no one has than this, to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends if you do what I ask of you.

I do not call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business.

I call you my friends, because I have shared with you everything that I have learned from my Father.

You did not choose me,
I chose you, and sent you out to bear fruit – fruit that will last.
The Father will give you anything you ask for in my name.
The only command I give you is this: Love one another.

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