Fifth Sunday of Easter

Today Jesus uses an image to communicate a message of connection. The image Jesus uses is one very familiar to the people of His day. He uses the image of a vine and branches. He speaks of His own connection to call the Father and then in turn our connection to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

The image of the vine and branches is very powerful because the branches cannot survive independent of the vine. Moreover, Jesus speaks repeatedly about the need of the branches to bear good fruit.

So in using this image what is Jesus trying to communicate? Jesus is telling us clearly that we are created to be connected to Him. We are created to be connected to God. When that connection starts to fade or diminish then our spirit becomes less than what it is created to be. This means that we start to become a diminished version of ourselves. The great spiritual writers refer to this as the “shadow self”. It is the darker side of who we are. We start to embrace things that are not of God. This delights the evil one. He wants us to become a distorted dark version of who God created us to be.

Jesus calls us into the light. He lifts us up. As He was raised from the dead, Jesus calls us to follow Him into living fully in His Spirit. This means that we bear fruit because we are connected to Him. What type of things would come forth from one who is connected to the Spirit of God?

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are these: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control

Do you know people who have these virtues? Do you know people who live in the spirit of God that just radiate love or joy or peace or patience or gentleness or kindness? There are several people that come to mind for me. And every time I am around them my spirit is lifted. I feel better because I have encountered them. They make my day better. So many times I walk away from people like this thinking I wish I was more like that person. I have even asked them – what is the source of your joy?

We have our frustrations and challenges and sorrows and sufferings in this life. And yet we are constantly reminded that we need to reach out to God. We need to connect with God as much as we can. So one question I have this morning is – how do we connect with God? In prayer? In music? In spiritual reading? In worship?

The next thing for us to think about is that if we strive to live in the spirit of God – what fruit do we need to bring forth?

Pick one and make it your own this next week. What fruit will you offer to God and others? Here is the list again: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Together let us live connected to our God. And may we always bear good fruit in The Spirit of our God.

First Reading
Acts 9:26-31

Barnabas reported to the Apostles how Saul had seen the Lord on the way.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
   but they were all afraid of him,
   not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
   and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
   and that he had spoken to him,
   and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
   and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
   but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
   they took him down to Caesarea
   and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
   and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.


Responsorial Psalm
Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

R. :

R. (26a) I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
  or:
R. Alleluia.

I will fulfill my vows before those who fear the LORD.
   The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
   “May your hearts live forever!”

R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
  or:
R. Alleluia.

All the ends of the earth
   shall remember and turn to the LORD;
all the families of the nations
   shall bow down before him.

R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
or:
R. Alleluia.

To him alone shall bow down
   all who sleep in the earth;
before him shall bend
   all who go down into the dust.

R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
  or:
R. Alleluia.

And to him my soul shall live;
   my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
   that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
   the justice he has shown.

R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
  or:
R. Alleluia.


Second Reading
1 Jn 3:18-24

This is his commandment: that we may believe and love.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint John

Children, let us love not in word or speech
   but in deed and truth.

Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
   and reassure our hearts before him
   in whatever our hearts condemn,
   for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
   we have confidence in God
   and receive from him whatever we ask,
   because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
   we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
   and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
   and the way we know that he remains in us
   is from the Spirit he gave us.


Acclamation before the Gospel
Jn 15:4a, 5b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord.
Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.


Gospel
Jn 15:1-8

Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.

✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

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 every one 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.”

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

All reply:

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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