Seventh Sunday of Easter, Cycle B (May 17, 2015)

How do you suppose Barsabbas felt after the election? A newapostle was needed. Judas had to be replaced. Two candidates werechosen from among those who had been disciples from the beginning:Matthias and Barsabbas. Then, to give the Holy Spirit a voice in thedecision, the two men drew lots. Barsabbas drew the short straw.Matthias became the twelfth apostle.

If Barsabbas was seeking a great career in the Church, he must havefelt devastated. To be that close to being an apostle, and to lose out.And to Matthias! He was doubtless tempted to make a few unedifyingcomments about Matthias. Perhaps Barsabbas’ friends gathered round tocommiserate with him to assure him the he was the better candidate,and to console him with the hope that he would at least get a favorablemention in the New Testament.

Now naturally, we hope that a potential apostle like Barsabbas wasabove this kind of thing. Though when we remember the petty squabblesamong the apostles about who was going to sit at Christ’s right handwhen he came into his kingdom, we might have our doubts. But in anycase, our instinct is that Barsabbas must have accepted the results of theelection with good grace. He must have been free of ambition andjealousy. He would have accepted that God’s will had been done,confident that God loved him, and had a plan for him, and that it would allwork out for the best.

But, of course, if we’re going to hold Barsabbas to this standard,we must hold ourselves to it as well. Our Gospel tells us that before heascended into heaven, Jesus prayed for each of us that’s you and meand commended us to his Father’s love and protection. Then he said,”Since I have sent them into the world, I consecrate myself to them.”God has a loving plan to shower each of us with every good gift we cancarry.

Now we all believe that, and because we believe that, we ought tobe able to relax a bit. We needn’t feel as if our success and our well-beingdepend exclusively upon a combination of luck and our own franticefforts. We needn’t be ruled by ambition or scarred by jealousy. Each ofus is a personal favorite of the creator of the universe. Christ would havelived and died for any one of us, if he or she was the only person in theworld. All we need to do is to remain faithful, and use the gifts God hasgiven us in the service of the people God sends our way.

That leads me to another point. We know that we can’t just prayfor the hungry. We have to feed them. We can’t just pray for the sick.We have to care for them. We are God’s hands in the world. Well, thesame is true of divine providence. Where we see faith in our cynicalworld, where we see idealism and self-sacrifice, especially among theyoung, we must cherish it, foster it, and reward it. When we encounterpeople who are in the world, but not of it, we should take a hand atprotecting them from the evil one. Those who dare to let go and trustGod must find us to be their friends. In a sense, we can be instruments ofGod’s loving plan for them.

And as for ourselves, we must pray, reflecting on the providentialways God has acted in our lives in the past, and looking for the ways Godis urging us to go now. And when we see a way forward, we can follow itwith peace of mind and heart, confident that our lives and our hopes are
in God’s loving hands.

Fr. Charles Gordon, C.S.C.

Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., is co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland. He writes and records a regular blog called “Fractio Verbi.”

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