Reflection: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Acts.9:26-31; Ps.21; 2nd Reading – 1Jn.3:18-24; Gospel – Jn.15:1-8]

“YOU ARE PRUNED”

In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus presented himself as “The Good Shepherd”.  In today’s, he says that he is “The True Vine”. It is interesting to note that Jesus always makes use of and qualifies an image of something that has life in it and also that has the possibility to give life.  Furthermore he uses an image through which one can create a relationship – a relationship that can go both ways: “…whoever remains in me, with me in him…”.  Added to this, today, Jesus presents the Father as the vine-dresser.

The relationship that we are talking about is between the vine and the branches. Jesus is saying that he is the vine through which the branches can bud, grow and have life in them: and this relationship can be noticed if they bear fruit. They can do so under one condition – only if they are still attached to the vine. If they do not bear fruit something is wrong with them.  Therefore the vine-dresser cuts them off and throws them away: What use is a branch that does not produce any fruit? It is not the appearance but the actual fruit, and therefore the unfruitful branches are cut and after they wither, they are thrown away in the fire to burn.  On the other hand the branches that are united to the vine and which, therefore, produce fruit, are pruned by the vine-dresser so that they give more fruit and fruit in plenty.

Added to this imagery, Jesus also gives its explanation. He is talking to his disciples (who are following him!) and he is telling them that they are already pruned (by the vine-dresser – Father) “by means of the word” spoken to them by him – Jesus. At the same time he is also inviting them “to make their home” in him just as he makes his home in them, because, if they are not united to him, they cannot do anything. But if they are united to him they will become “one” with him because he gives them the strength they need to hear his words, to bear plenty of fruit through which they glorify the Father, and to become his “true” disciples united with him and those who follow him… And the circle starts again…

This is what happened to Saul (known as Paul) in the first reading. While he was not united with the Vine (Jesus) he just could not do anything and was the terror of those who knew him.  Once Barnabas introduced him as “one of the branches” in the vineyard of the Lord, he was accepted by the Church and “the churches… were left in peace, filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit”. No one doubts the plentiful fruits that he produced for the vinedresser, because, as we find in the second reading, Paul’s love was “not just words or mere talk, but something real and active”.

Lord, you said you are ‘the true vine’ and we are ‘the branches’. You also said that we cannot do anything unless we are united to you. Lord, give us the strength that we need to be able to form ourselves according to this vine – you – to be able to bear fruit in abundance, fruit which in itself can give life to others through your word in us. Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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