Sunday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 9:26-31, Psalm 22:26-28, 30-32, 1 John 3:18-24, & John 15:1-8
I suspect that all of us would rather be included than excluded. Not being included or being rejected is one of our deepest human fears. Not being asked to a party, not being chosen for a team, receiving a dismissal notice are terrifying memories that may even turn into nightmares.
Today’s readings speak of those experiences. In the reading from Acts, Saul has been knocked off his horse and converted by conversing with Jesus, whom he persecuted. Afterward, when Saul returned to the group of apostles in Jerusalem, they initially refused to have anything to do with him because of his prior reputation. Finally, a group stood up and spoke for Saul concerning his preaching freely about Jesus elsewhere. Paul was admitted into the group and sent out to begin his mission. Saul, now Apostle Paul, found out how difficult it is to live with the past.
The second reading from 1 John is clear and straightforward—love manifests in actions and words. More simply, we must love one another and keep God’s commandments. John’s Gospel narrative is also very clearly stated. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, and if we are apart from Him, rather than a part of Him, we can do nothing. Bearing fruit is the result of living His words and ways. Being barren is the result of doing ‘our own thing,’ rather than allowing His world to influence ‘our thing.’
After the Resurrection of Jesus, His starting line-up was set, and the ones chosen went forth to win the world for Jesus. That’s how they saw it until Jesus recruited Saul from the opposing team, who, by his admission, was born out of time. Jesus transformed Saul, who would convert many to the ways of his Master. Once Saul became a part of Jesus, he was a part of the whole team, the Body of Christ.
We, too, are Christ’s starting line-up, and as we line-up for our reception of the Eucharist at Holy Mass, we receive His Body and are being included into that same Body. We also receive His mission, which He shared with Saul, of bearing witness for Him by embracing in our hearts those whose pasts we know and those we do not know. If Saul was good enough for Jesus, then so are we.
Question of the Day:
Will you reflect on your life and commit to always remain in Jesus Christ (who is the vine)?
Lord Jesus, deliver me from selfishness. In all my ways, let Your will be my guiding star and an example to others. Amen.