Sunday, April 29, 2018

April 29 - 5th Sunday of Easter


5th Sunday of Easter – April 29, 2018

I –Barnabas reported to the Apostles how Saul had seen the Lord on the way.
R –I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
II – This is his commandment: that we may believe and love.
A – Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord. Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
G –Whoever remains in me and I him will bear much fruit.

+ We have encouraging and wonderful readings today. The first reading tells of how the Church - through the working of the Holy Spirit - was being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord, with the consolation of the Holy Spirit, growing in numbers. This, including the story of how, when Saul first arrives, ready to preach boldly in the name of the Lord, everyone was afraid of him because he is the very one who was just recently out to persecute and imprison newly baptized Christians.

But it was Barnabas who took charge of the situation and introduced Saul / soon to be Paul / as one who is actually on their side now! And it was a marvel for all to see the change in this young upstart from Tarsus. Yes, when God has his way with someone, things change, and for the better!

St. John in the second reading today tells the community of believers that the genuineness of their Christian commitment must be expressed in deeds and in truth and not just word or speech. If we do not allow Jesus to live his life for others through us, then we can talk about it all we want, and it will mean nothing, and nothing meaningful will get done. We must practice what we preach.

Then the magnificent imagery of the gospel passage shows us the degree to which we can and must be united to Jesus in order to have a prosperous and abundant life, here and hereafter and something to share with others: our communion must be like that of a vine and branches. I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me: by daily acts of belief and service to others, then you will experience my presence in a powerful way, and you will be able to ask me for anything and I will do it for you – because you are pleasing my Father and bearing much fruit.

And so at this planting time of the year, when new vines and growth are easily visible let us be reminded how intimate our relationship with Jesus and his Father is meant to be, and in fact can be, through the working of the Holy Spirit in us! A powerful force indeed! – and it will affect not only our own lives, but the lives of those God places in our path each and every day – through us!

Amen.

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