Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2015 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the image of the vine to explain his relationship with us: “I am the true vine and you are the branches” (Jn 15:1).

Union with God is our vocation. We are called to encounter God. However, many people feel anxious about this. Father John Tauler wrote: “A reasonable being should never give himself rest until he has struggled through all created things to the possession of God alone.”

The first reading says that the disciples from Jerusalem were afraid of St. Paul. They did not want to receive him because they thought he was still persecuting Christians. Barnabas reassured them that Paul had seen Jesus and this encounter had radically transformed his life. In Paul we can see what St. John is saying in the second reading: “God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1 Jn 3:19).

After Paul’s encounter with Christ, conversion and baptism, his life became fruitful. He is a bold example of what Jesus says in the Gospel: “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit” (Jn 15:5).   

Using the image of the vine, Jesus stresses that in order to produce fruit we need to belong to him through his body, which is the Church. The isolated individual is sterile.

We have an instinctive reaction to the idea of belonging. We are afraid of losing our independence. The world catechizes us that in order to be ourselves, we need to retain our autonomy.

However, Jesus says something completely different: “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:6). He does not say that without him you cannot do some things but clearly says: “nothing.” He does not only say that we cannot engage in “religious” activities. He says: “nothing.” However, we do so many things without Christ, without thinking about him. How is this possible? Jesus is saying that without him we can do nothing fruitful. Sooner or later, whatever we do without him will wither.

The fear that people experience in going further in their relationship with God is due to individualism. We are afraid of losing ourselves, of relinquishing control over our lives. We do not risk having a deeper encounter with God because we are trying to defend our self-will. The result is that instead of being fruitful, our lives become barren.

“God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1 Jn 3:19). We need to recognize the greatness of the Lord. We need to accept that we belong to him. We need to have confidence in him.

Father Tauler tells us how we can see the sign that we truly belong to Christ: “Whatever comes to you accept it as immediately out of the hand of God, sweet or bitter, and refer it all back again into the same loving hand, in entire abandonment to his holy will.”

Today’s word of God tells us that we need to convert from autonomy to belonging. St. Paul is the greatest example of such conversion. His vision of Christ transformed his heart and made his life immensely fruitful.

As we begin the month of May, especially dedicated to Mary, we ask her to help us increase our union with Christ. May we be deeply rooted in the Vine. May we do nothing without Jesus in order to experience the fruitfulness that he promises.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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