From the Pastor's Desk
3rd Sunday of Easter
Today’s Scripture selections emphasize the need for Christians to abide in Christ as a condition for producing fruits of kindness, mercy, charity, and holiness.
The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, testifies to the abundance of spiritual fruits yielded by the apostles because of their close bond with the risen Lord. The reading tells us how the Lord pruned the former Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, a fanatic who had persecuted the Church, to produce a fruit-bearing branch called Paul, the zealous Apostle to the Gentiles, entirely dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel. Even Paul’s forced return to Tarsus for a brief period is an example of God’s pruning of the vine to bring forth a greater harvest, namely, the mission to the Gentiles.
In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 22), we sing the triumphant end of the Psalm which begins,”My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” -- Jesus’ Fourth Word from the cross.
In today’s second reading, John, in his first letter to the Church, explains that only if we remain united to Christ by putting our Faith in him and drawing our spiritual strength from him, will we be able to obey God’s commandments, especially the commandment of love, loving one another as Jesus commanded us.
In the Gospel, taken from the Last Supper discourse, Jesus uses his favorite image of the vine and branches to help his disciples understand the closeness of their relationship with him and the necessity of their maintaining it. They are not simply rabbi and disciples. Their lives are mutually dependent - as close as a vine and its branches. In fact, in using this image, Jesus is explaining to them and to us what our relationship with him should be like.
1) We need pruning in our Christian life. Cutting out of our lives everything that is contrary to the spirit of Jesus and renewing our commitment to Christian ideals in our lives every day is the first type of self-imposed pruning expected of us. A second means of pruning is to practice self-control over our evil inclinations, sinful addictions and aberrations. Cordial mingling in our neighborhood and society with people of different cultures, races, religions, and orientations also enables us to prune away our selfish, judgmental, and prejudicial tendencies as we treat others in the society with Christian charity, and strengthens us, enabling us to face with the courage of our Christian convictions the pain, suffering, contradictions, and difficulties He permits to enter our lives.
2) We need to abide in Christ and let Christ abide in us: The four Gospels teach us how to become true disciples of Jesus and how to abide in him as branches abide in the main trunk of the vine, drawing their life from it. Personal and liturgical prayers, frequenting of the Sacraments of the HolyEucharist and Reconciliation, daily, meditative reading of Scripture, and our loving, mutual forgiveness exchanged with everyone enable us to abide in Jesus, the true Vine, as fruit-bearing branches.