Catholic homily outline for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B – The Holy Name

St. Peter

St. Peter

Central idea: Christ cares for us, his children, through his Church. Doctrine: The holy name of Jesus. Practical application: Reverence for the Holy Name.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

To view Lectionary 60, click here.

For homily outlines for the Solemnity of the Ascension look here or here.

Central idea: God cares for us, his children, through his Church

Reading 1 Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers
—there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons
in the one place —.
He said, “My brothers,
the Scripture had to be fulfilled
which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand
through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,
who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.
He was numbered among us
and was allotted a share in this ministry.

“For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
May another take his office.

“Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men
who accompanied us the whole time
the Lord Jesus came and went among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day on which he was taken up from us,
become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.
Then they prayed,
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen
to take the place in this apostolic ministry
from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

  • To be an apostle means to have an “office,” that is, an established position of authority and trust within an organization, in this case the Church. In their prayer, those gathered called the office “this apostolic ministry.”
  • The twelve apostles were chosen by Christ. The new apostle, Matthias, was chosen by the eleven apostles and the Holy Spirit. Peter, the head of the apostles, takes the initiative in filling Judas’ office.
  • This is the beginning of apostolic succession: those who have been given the office of apostle give that office to other men. Thus we have the line of popes and bishops from the time of Christ down to today.
  • Christ does not leave his Church orphaned but cares for her through the Holy Spirit and the ongoing “apostolic ministry.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20

R. The Lord has set his throne in heaven or Alleluia.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.

  • To bless means to glorify, to extoll as holy or perfectly good.
  • Any soul who has any insight into God’s nature spontaneously blesses him.
  • God also deserves our blessing because of “all his benefits.”
  • One kind of benefit is his kindness toward those who fear him, that is, those who accept they are his creatures and never want to offend their creator.
    • For Christians, fear of the Lord also includes the desire a good child has not to offend his perfectly good Father.
  • A second benefit is his perfect forgiveness of our sins. The only “divorce” children of God desire is the division God has made between us and our forgiven sins, “as far as the east is from the west.”
  • We followers of Christ can hardly begin to extoll God for all the benefits he continues to give us to care for us through his Church: the Sacraments, virtues, and the Truth.

Reading 2 1 Jn 4:11-16

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.

  • God the Father loves us.
  • We must love one another.
  • If we love one another, God’s love is “brought to perfection in us.”
  • We have the experience of the Holy Spirit to confirm God’s love is in us.
  • We acknowledge that “Jesus is the Son of God.”
  • Our love for one another is the seal or guarantee that we are united to God.
  • Mutual love, which unites us to one another, to the Church, and therefore to the Blessed Trinity, is an on-going challenge to us while we are in the world.

Gospel Jn 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep 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,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

  • Due to the truly good things that technological progress brings, it is easy to forget that the world is still under the dominion of the evil one. But all you have to do is open your eyes and look around and see all the commandments being broken everywhere.
  • Through our ignorance, or passions, or even malice, we baptized followers of Christ can also be in league with the world and the devil.
  • Therefore, we need protection from the harm the world wants to do to us. We need protection from our own self-destructive desire to join the world that is under the dominion of the evil one.
  • Our Lord says the remedy is to be “consecrated in truth.” Our Lord not only teaches us the truth about reality but he himself is the Truth.
  • So we have a choice.
    • We can unite with him. If we do, we will face the wrath of the world. But Our Lord promises to protect us ultimately.
    • Or we can give ourselves over to the world, and whether or not we realize it, to the evil one. If we do, we may receive the short-term “benefits” the world promises. But then we will experience the destruction that the evil one really has in mind.
  • Uniting ourselves with Christ is a gift of divine grace which we choose to accept and cooperate with through our efforts.
  • The Father must consecrate us and he will because we belong to his Son who sends us into the world.
  • Thus, in our lives in this world, we are not orphans (Jn 14:18).

Doctrine: The Holy Name of Jesus

  • Today’s Gospel is an excerpt from Our Lord’s “priestly prayer” which he prayed with his disciples at the Last Supper (CCC 2747).
  • In this priestly prayer, which is “inseparable from his sacrifice” (CCC 2747), Our Lord fulfills “from within” the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (CCC 2750): “concern for the Father’s name; passionate zeal for his kingdom (glory);the accomplishment of the will of the Father, of his plan of salvation; and deliverance from evil” (CCC 2750).
    • Our Lord taught his disciples and us to pray the Our Father, so it is a prayer for human beings who are living in this world but who are also citizens of heaven. But at the same time, Our Lord lived out and fulfilled those petitions. This is fitting because he was not just true God but true man, the perfect man.
  • “By entering into the holy name of the Lord Jesus we can accept, from within, the prayer he teaches us” (CCC 2750).
    • What is “the holy name of the Lord Jesus”? Our Savior is Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. These names mean the person God has set apart for us (Christ or anointed), who is with us always (Emmanuel or God-with-us), and who saves us from sin and death (Jesus or savior).
    • How do we enter this name? We enter his name by becoming a Christian through Baptism. We enter his name more deeply by conforming ourselves more and more to Christ. And we reenter his name life after we have drawn back from it by sin, indifference, or thoughtlessness.
    • What does it mean to accept from within the prayer he teaches us? The Christian life, as summed up in the Lord’s Prayer, is possible. It has already been perfectly fulfilled by Our Lord, who wants to help us fulfill it as well. He helps us by his grace. It is desirable to fulfill because he who is desirable has done it. Even the difficult and sacrificial parts of fulfilling the will of the Father are also desirable and possible because Our Lord has done it.

Practical application: Reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus.

  • Second Council of Lyons (AD 1274) said that “Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that name which is above every name, than which no other under heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the name, that is, of Jesus Christ, who will save his people from their sins.”
    • Here is how the Council Fathers said this reverence should specifically be made: “Each should fulfill in himself that which is written for all that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious name is recalled, especially during the sacred mysteries of the mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head” (§ 25).
  • Pope Gregory X asked the Dominican order especially to preach the need for people to bow their heads at Mass at the name of Jesus.
  • Later, the Holy Name Society was erected to uphold the divinity of Christ, to honor his name, and to oppose “heresy, blasphemies, cursing, swearing and the irreverent and unholy use of the Name of God” prevalent in society, “especially by men.”
  • Thus a good habit we can form is to nod our heads whenever we hear the name of Jesus spoken.
  • Bowing inwardly in honor of the name of our loving savior makes us put ourselves directly in opposition to any misuse of the name of God and any other sins of the tongue. As the Holy Name Pledge puts it, “In honor of His Divine Name I pledge myself against perjury, blasphemy, profanity and obscene speech.”
  • Misuse of the tongue for us is matter for Sacramental Confession. And when we witness it in others, it calls for inward reparation on our part. If appropriate, it also might call for correction of the other person.
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