April 29, 2018
The readings today underline the importance of our relationship to Christ and how that can be transforming. Thus, as we read in Acts, Paul, because he was honest, embraced the truth about Jesus and, through the intervention of Barnabas, was embraced by the Christian community and began to boldly proclaim the truth about Jesus.
John strongly reminds of our close relationship with Jesus and to love “in deed and truth and not merely in word or speech.” This means among other things, accepting back those who earlier had turned away, being open to those who live their lives in ways that we consider unorthodox, welcoming the stranger or those who are in any way threatened. Such love, which is inspired by the Spirit, is evidence of the presence of the risen Lord in the community.
Jesus’ farewell discourses (gospel) remind us that he is 'the true vine' and we are 'the branches' an image for the people of God firmly rooted in Isaiah and Jeremiah, and which Jesus now applies to himself. The mutuality between Jesus and the disciples spoken of here is both a gift and a task. This mutuality and fruitfulness does not occur automatically, apart from participation of the disciples. We are reminded and cajoled and even threatened a bit with the announcement that the branches that fail to abide are worthless and fit for nothing more than firewood. But the prospect of such an outcome need not be paralyzing, since the abiding is two-sided—the disciples in Christ and Christ in the disciples. All of this is grace. We have a shared life with the Risen Christ and live by the same lifeblood as Jesus.
It is no wonder that at the core the Eucharist is a prayer of gratitude and an expression of joy.
Prayer: Merciful Father, may these mysteries give us new purpose and bring us to a new life in you.