7th Sunday of Easter (Year B)

Throughout the Easter season, we embark on a journey that culminates in an expansive exploration of love.

3 young people on a sofa studying the bible together


First Reading: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26

  • This curious passage involves casting lots to select a replacement for Judas among the 12, a practice still used in some oriental churches.
  • Peter uses the Psalms prophetically here. How might this influence how we read the Psalms today? How can we read them through a prophetic, messianic lens?

Psalm: Psalm 102(103):1-2, 11-12, 19-20

  • This psalm is a psalm of confidence, the kind of confidence displayed by the apostles in trusting the Lord to reveal a successor to Judas, that sees God’s providential hand at work. How might we adopt that confidence today? Are there any dangers?
  • In the first stanza of the psalm, the psalmist speaks to his own soul and encourages himself to thank, bless, and praise the Lord. The psalmist exhorts himself to remember God’s blessings. This is an encouragement for us: we may not always feel like praising the Lord or receiving his blessings, but we can use psalms like this to nudge ourselves towards that place.

Second Reading: 1 John 4:11-16

  • We are told here that no one has ever seen God, which is a common affirmation in the Old Testament. How do we read this alongside the Incarnation? Each Sunday, we also affirm in the creed that we believe in God, the maker of all things visible and invisible; how do we understand the invisible creation?
  • John reiterates that “God is love” and calls on us to have faith in and live out of God’s love for us. Notice how closely the passage intertwines God’s life and love for us.

Gospel: John 17:11-19

  • This passage in John’s gospel is known as the High Priestly Prayer; it may represent John’s ‘version’ of the institution at the Lord’s Supper. It is an incredibly privileged insight into the conversation between the Son and the Father.
  • Jesus speaks of his disciples not belonging to the world but being consecrated or set apart for the truth: how does this affect how we live in an increasingly secularised society?
  • Here, Jesus again draws comparisons between his relationship to the Father and the relationship Christians are called to have; he prays that we may be one, as he and the Father are one. What importance do we put on Christian unity? Do we see it as significant as Jesus does here?


Last week, we considered the kind of love that Jesus exemplified and called us to participate in. This week, our readings from John flesh that theme out even more.

I’d encourage you to read through the whole of 1 John today to recap where we’ve been. John’s letter is multi-layered, each phrase building on another and circling back to reinforce earlier points. Reading it as a whole today won’t take very long but will hopefully enrich the journey that John’s taken us on throughout the Easter season, a journey that has culminated in an expansive exploration of love.

Our passage from 1 John begins with another little word: “since.” In other words, John wants us to remember what came before in his letter.

He wants us to remember these points:

God is love
Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God
God’s love is revealed in Jesus

With those truths fixed firmly in our minds, John reinforces the call for us to love one another, echoing Jesus’ words from last week’s gospel.

At the end of last week’s reflection, we cast a glance in the direction of the Holy Spirit, who begins to move into view today and takes centre stage next week.

We said that Jesus’ command to love one another is a tall order. Or, to be blunt, it’s just not feasible for us simple, flawed human beings with busy lives. The only way we could have a chance of modelling that kind of life would be with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Today, John gives just that reassurance. Read these words again:

“We can know that we are living in him, and he is living in us because he lets us share in his Spirit.”

There’s a conviction in John, which can be a little bit hard for us to swallow. How can I know I’m sharing in the Spirit? I can hope that I am! But can I know? For sure?

It’s almost as if John can see our hesitation because he immediately jumps in: I can witness to it! He says:

“We testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.”

He puts himself up as living proof of what he’s saying. Which is all well and good, but we’re nearly two millennia removed from John! We, though, have the saints. Look at the lives of people who testify to this reality: that the Father sent the Son to save the world and has given us a share in his Spirit.

Look to Padre Pio: look at the stigmata on his hands, his way of speaking to people so directly in confession.

Look to Mother Teresa: see how she poured herself out in compassionate service to the poorest people, even as she grappled with darkness herself.

Look to Pope John Paul II, who took on the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, survived an assassination attempt, and led the Church through his increasingly debilitating Parkinson’s.

Each of these saints, and so many more, were motivated in their lives of heroism by the conviction and experience of the truth of God’s promises in Jesus Christ. In the words of Jesus from the gospel today, they were consecrated in the truth: set apart for it and sent into the world to proclaim it.

The Church is a living body stretching back thousands of years, and God has always raised up men and women as beacons to remind us that we can trust his promises. A John, a Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, or John Paul II are not given the title “Saint” to make themselves look good; they don’t need it, and they’re happier than we can possibly imagine in the presence of the Lord! They’re called “Saint” to encourage and motivate us who are called to follow in their footsteps.

The lot has fallen to you and me. With the Spirit living within us, let’s go out into the world to love extravagantly.


  • General Roman Calendar: for saints commemorated liturgically in the universal Church, who can be great sources of inspiration for living a life of sacrificial love
  • Pope St. John Paul II, Dominum et vivificantem: encyclical letter on the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the world
  • CCC 687-747 (Catechism of the Catholic Church): summary of teaching on the Holy Spirit