By Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S.
The readings today are challenges to look outside of our inner circles, niches, tribes, et cetera. The first reading tells how the apostles filled the twelfth slot that was left behind by Judas. The apostles may have already been in crisis mode, in the upper room. They may have been afraid to come out of there because of fear of persecution. As well, they may have thought that Jesus was returning quickly.
Finding an appropriate person to fill that twelfth spot was an acknowledgement that their plans were going to need long-term strategizing. It is intentional that Judas’ replacement was chosen from among the diaspora as opposed to their own inner circle. Religious communities historically have looked for vocations and have done ministry from this angle. We look in certain demographics as opposed to others, certain geographic places, stay within certain education levels. When we open these same doors outside of their historical niches, the people we reach out to are enriched. The people we reach out to give back upon the community. Then the community’s charism and spirituality is enriched, and we can all walk away a little better at the end of the day. Choosing Matthias may have come with some stress, but that act of faith produced good fruits.
The second reading and the Gospel addresses loving the world. John places no condition upon who Jesus came to save: the world. In the Gospel, Jesus asks God to protect the apostles and to consecrate the Word as the apostles go forth into the world to preach the Word. The Word is mentioned nine times in this Gospel reading. The impression that I get is that the world is seen as hate-filled and scary to the apostles.
To conclude, that this is the view of the apostles is to negate John’s most famous passage (3:16). The world is going to present plenty of challenges and bringing the Word into the world is going to be sometimes frightening and even dangerous. However, God asks us to go beyond our boundaries and bring God’s word, and love, into corners of the world that desperately need it now.
Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S., is a hospital chaplain in Northwest Indiana. He is also the associate director of Companions (lay associates) of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.