5th Week of Easter /John I
1st Reading: Acts 15:1-6
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question. They were sent on their journey by the Church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brethren. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the Church, as well as by the Apostles and the presbyters, and they reported what God had done with them. But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and direct them to observe the Mosaic law.” The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.
Gospel: Jn 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
I AM THE VINE, YOU ARE BRANCHES: The analogy of the vine and the branches is a powerful and explicit symbol of our relationship with Jesus. The vine and the branches are too intimate. They are intrinsically united. A branch is not an artificial addition to the vine. It is just there. It is only the action of cutting off that needs effort. The physical attachment makes the sap to pass from the main stem to the branches. There is life in the branches because of the stem. The more we contemplate this image, the more we are drawn to the heart of Christ. It enkindles our desire for intimacy through an intrinsic and natural attachment to Him. The result of that attachment is good fruits that we and others can enjoy.
Prayer: Lord, may the Eucharist I share today, draw me closer to you.
REMAIN IN ME: These words are repeated by Jesus in his last instructions to his disciples before the passion. In different forms he tells them the same: “remain in me”, “remain in my love”, “in my words”, “in my peace” … Jesus knows that his disciples will be upset with the events which are going to happen in Jerusalem. He announced these events to them well ahead three times: “The Son of Man will be delivered into human hands. They will kill him” (Mk 9:31). Despite he spoke about it quite openly, it was difficult for them to accept and understand it: “Never, Lord! No, this must never happen to you” (Mt 16:22). In front of the scandal of the cross and the temptation of desperation, the disciple´s faith can collapse. Jesus advises us and reminds us that only by remaining in him, the disciple can live in the midst of such difficult situations. In other words, `the rain will pour, the rivers flood, and the wind blows and strike you, but you will not collapse, you are built on Jesus the rock (Cf. Mt 7:24).
GET CONNECTED TO A LIFE NETWORK: As a river that forgets its source dries up, so is a Christian who forgets Christ the source of life. This image of the vine is similar to that of the Body of Christ (1Cor 12:12-27, Eph 1:22-23). The word “remain” has been repeated eight times in the Gospel passage. It illustrates the mutual in-dwelling and continuous union with Jesus as the inevitable connection that leads to everlasting joy. Those who remain connected to the vine are sustained and nourished, while those who disconnect wither and die. A life of holiness is a life of connection with the Creator and with fellow creatures. Within this connection there is constant pruning and purification. It is Jesus who cleanses us by his word and prunes those with imperfect faith. Let us open ourselves to him accepting his Sprit to prune us in our families, and in our communities. It is only then that we can bear the fruit of the spirit.