First reading Acts 1:15-17,20-26
'Let someone else take his office'
One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers - there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: 'Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus - after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:
Let someone else take his office.
'We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us - and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.'
Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, 'Lord, you can read everyone's heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.' They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.
Second reading 1 John 4:11-16
Anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him
My dear people,
since God has loved us so much,
we too should love one another.
No one has ever seen God;
but as long as we love one another
God will live in us
and his love will be complete in us.
We can know that we are living in him
and he is living in us
because he lets us share his Spirit.
We ourselves saw and we testify
that the Father sent his Son
as saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God lives in him, and he in God.
We ourselves have known and put our faith in
God's love towards ourselves.
God is love
and anyone who lives in love lives in God,
and God lives in him.
Gospel Reading John 17:11-19
Father, keep those you have given me true to your name
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them,
and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world,
and for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.'
In today's Gospel we experience Jesus praying that his disciples may be made one, and "consecrated to the truth." St. Francis de Sales notes:
How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity! When two or three or more souls share with one another their sacred love and holy affections, and establish a single spirit, they experience true friendship. Friendships that are sacred, speak truthfully, and praise only virtue and God's love.
For those of us who live in the world and desire to embrace true virtue it is necessary to unite in holy friendship. The higher the virtue you share with each other, the more perfect your friendship will be. You encourage, assist, and lead one another to perform good deeds. People walking on level ground do not have to lend one another a hand. Yet, those who are on a rugged road hold on to one another to walk more safely. The only connection between them is that of sacred love, which St. Paul calls: "the bond of perfection." This bond of love grows in time and takes on new power. It gives us ease and true liberty. Its force is gentle, yet so solid.
It is the presence of God's love in us that leads to an authentic love of self, and subsequently, to love others the way God desires us to love them. We cherish all creatures for love of God. To love our neighbor in holiness is to love God in them. Thus, we must not neglect to nurture the friendships with our parents, kindred, neighbors and others. Yet, we live in a world where everyone is not of the same mind and heart. Hence, we need particular friendships to support us in the many dangerous places we must pass through. True friendships are sacred because they come from God, lead to God, and will endure eternally in God. How good it is to unite our hearts here on earth, as we will do in eternity!
(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)