Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2015
Reading 1 Acts 9:26-31
Responsorial Psalm Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
Reading 2 1 Jn 3:18-24
Gospel Jn 15:1-8
Saul made a 180 degree turn in his life. He was threatening everyone who belonged to the Way and wanted permission to arrest them and to bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. In his journey a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him and he fell to the ground. He hears a voice saying “Saul why are you persecuting me?” When Saul asks who he is the answer is “I am Jesus”. When Saul opens his eyes he cannot see for three days until Ananias comes and says “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.” Saul got up and was baptized and he ate since he had not eaten in three days. He stayed in Damascus and began preaching that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. When the Jews saw the change in Saul they had a plan to kill him and had guards at all the gates of the city but Saul’s disciples lowered him in a basket from an opening in the wall.
Now Saul wants to join the disciples in Jerusalem but they are afraid of him and think he is a spy who wants to arrest them. For us it would be like having someone who is a terrorist have a conversion and want to be one of us. How quick would we be to accept him or her? Barnabas defended Saul and then Saul told his story about what had happened to him and how he had changed from being against the followers of Jesus to be a follower of Jesus. Saul now preached boldly around Jerusalem only to have an attempt on his life by traditionalist Jewish immigrants called Hellenists. Now the disciples take Saul to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus. The church grew in great numbers in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria as it had great respect for the Lord and felt God’s presence through the Holy Spirit.
The first Letter of Saint John reminds us to love in deed and truth. It is not enough to say the words. God’s commandment is this: “we should believe in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.”
In the gospel Jesus says I am the true vine. We are the branches. We are to bear fruit. I remember when my grandfather had some grape vines and at harvest time there were clusters of concord grapes that were so sweet to pop into one’s mouth. Now that was good fruit! God has given all of us various talents to spread the good news of His love. We can tell God we love Him but God is looking for our loving actions more than in what we say. Talk can be cheap. When we witness to others by word and deed then we are being fruitful.
Jesus is the vine to which we need to be connected in order to be fruitful. We need to take time to pray, to be in the presence of our Lord, to read the Bible. One of the greatest gifts we have is the Eucharist. Jesus took bread and said to His disciples at the Last Supper, take and eat, this is my Body and then he took a cup of wine and said take and drink this is my Blood. Do this in memory of me.
Sometimes we can remember a special time so well that it seems like we are reliving it again. That is what we do at each Mass. We make present the true Body and Blood of Jesus under the form of bread and wine. It is a wonderful gift we can receive up to twice in one day! I will always remember my grandparents, Harry and Anna Miller pulling into the farmyard after Mass the day I made my First Communion and I went out to meet them and my grandfather said to me “maybe you would be a priest one day.”
One of my favorite prayers after I received communion is on the back of the missalette called Anima Christi. Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, wash me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me; O good Jesus, hear me; Within your wounds hide me; Separated from you, let me never be; From the evil one protect me; At the hour of my death, call me; And close to you bid me; That with your saints, I may be, praising you forever and ever. Amen.
Let us remember in our prayers all those receiving their First Communion this weekend and all those who were confirmed on Friday evening. Jesus help them and all of us to bear good fruit.