May 2, 2021
“I am the vine, you are the branches;
He who abides in me and I in him, that one bears abundant fruit;
because without me they can’t do anything ”.
Reading from the Acts of the Apostles 9, 26-31
In those days, when Paul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, because they did not trust that he was really a disciple. Then Barnabas presented him to the apostles.
Saul told them how he had seen the Lord on the road, what he had said to him, and how in Damascus he had publicly preached the name of Jesus.
Saul stayed with them and moved freely in Jerusalem, publicly preaching the name of the Lord. He also spoke and argued with the Greek-speaking Jews, who set out to suppress him. When the brothers found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him to Tarsus.
The Church enjoyed peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. It was being built and progressed in fidelity to the Lord, and it multiplied, animated by the Holy Spirit.
Ps. 21, 26b-27. 28 and 30. 31-32
The Lord is my praise in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows in front of his faithful. The helpless will eat their fill,
Those who seek him will praise the Lord: let your heart live forever. R.
They will remember it and return to the Lord even from the confines of the world;
in his presence the families of the peoples will bow down.
The ashes of the grave will bow before him,
Those who go down to the dust will bow before him. R.
He will make me live for him, my offspring will serve him,
they will speak of the Lord to the future generation,
they will tell his righteousness to the people to be born: all that the Lord has done. R.
A reading from the first letter of the Apostle Saint John 3: 18-24
My children, let us not love by word and mouth, but in truth and with deeds.
In this we will know that we are of the truth and we will calm our conscience before him, in case our conscience condemns us, because God is greater than our conscience and knows everything.
Beloved, if conscience does not condemn us, we have full confidence before God. And whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And this is his commandment: that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and that we love one another, just as he commanded us.
Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him; in this we know that he abides in us: by the Spirit who gave us.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 15: 1-8
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch that does not bear fruit in me he plucks up, and everyone that bears fruit he prunes, so that it may bear more fruit.
You are already clean from the words that I have spoken to you; abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, if it does not remain on the vine, so neither can you, if it does not remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches; He who abides in me and I in him, that one bears abundant fruit; because without me they can’t do anything. Whoever does not remain in me is thrown out like a branch, and it withers; then they collect them and throw them into the fire, and they burn.
If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask what you wish, and it will be done.
With this my Father receives glory, that they bear abundant fruit; so they will be my disciples ”.
The first reading, in which the book of the Acts of the Apostles continues to be presented to us, tells us about Paul’s first steps as a Christian, after his conversion, already in Jerusalem at the side of the Apostles. His person still provoked certain misgivings in those who could not forget his past as a persecutor of the Church of Christ. But he endeavored to convince them of their total conversion from his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus. The text says: “Saul told them how he had seen the Lord on the road, what he had told him and how in Damascus he had publicly preached the name of Jesus.”
Thus, the experience of the risen Christ was not limited to the group of the first disciples who had lived with him before Easter, but little by little it also extends to all those who, through preaching and faith, experience it. alive and risen, they receive him in their hearts and allow themselves to be changed by him. The risen Christ totally transformed Paul. In the same way, the lives of so many Christians have changed throughout history. It can also change ours and that of so many who do not yet know him, or are even persecutors of his Church.
That is why we must continue to ask him to grant us the grace to “see” him, like Paul, on the road, feel him walking by our side, experience his transforming and comforting presence. And we have to ask it with faith not only for ourselves, but also for those who know that they need it the most, who do not believe in anything or anyone, who deny or mock us, even who discriminate or reject us for being his disciples. Let us never doubt that Christ can change any heart of stone, hardened by hatred and resentment, into a heart of flesh, human and fraternal; He can transform the most recalcitrant detractors into firm and convinced disciples of his. It is enough that they open a small crack in the door of his heart. The Church has grown and multiplied over the centuries mainly, not because of the strategy or conviction of Christians, but because of the action and consolation of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, always present in his Church.
The second reading, in which we continue listening to the letters of Saint John, speaks to us again of love as the foundation of the Christian life, love of truth and of works. Believing in Christ and loving as He loves us is the essence of the Christian life. From this derives our commitment to others in our daily tasks. Already in this fragment the verb “to remain” appears, so frequent and important in the texts of Saint John: “Whoever keeps his commandments remains in God, and God in him; in this we know that he abides in us: by the Spirit who gave us ”. Obeying God means being in communion with him, so that his Spirit, which he freely gives us, links us to him in thinking, feeling and acting.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus magnificently explains it to his disciples with the image of the vine and the branches. The Father is the husbandman, Jesus Christ is the vine and we, his disciples, the branches. Being a disciple of Christ consists fundamentally in abiding in Him, not so much in being, having or doing. By abiding in Him, in communion with Him, through prayer and the sacraments within the Church, united to Him like the branch to the vine, we can bear abundant fruit. The fruitfulness of our lives will always depend on our permanence in Him. In reality, this is concretized in allowing Him to act in us and through us. By abiding in Him, we will feel what He feels, we will think as He thinks, we will act as He acts. That is why we can do the works that He did, or even greater. And for that we will pray and ask for what is appropriate and what is appropriate. This image of the vine and the branches explains better than any other the mystique of communion in the Spirit of Christ, after all, the essence of discipleship. Certainly without Christ we cannot do anything, or what is the same, with Christ we can do everything, not on our own merits, but because He wants to share with us all His being, His power, His divinity; something that certainly puzzles us and overwhelms us.
Pope Francis says about this text: “It is about abiding in the Lord to find the courage to leave ourselves, our comforts, our protected and restricted spaces, to enter the open sea of the needs of the others and give ample breathing space to our Christian witness in the world. This courage to go out of ourselves and into the needs of others is born from faith in the risen Lord and from the certainty that his Spirit accompanies our history … When we are intimate with the Lord, as they are intimate and united with each other the vine and the branches, we are capable of bearing fruits of new life, mercy, justice and peace, which derive from the Resurrection of the Lord ”.
“Remain in me, and I in you”, is the command that the Lord gives us today, in this historical moment, in our local Church, in the concrete place where we live. Abiding in Him is the challenge we face every day when things are not going our way, when they persecute us, slander us, or make us suffer in any way, and we want to run away. Abiding in Him has been and continues to be the logic of all the witnesses, the martyrs, that is, those who have even gone so far as to give their lives sacrificially with the shedding of their blood.
Abiding in Him is not a game, nor a partial or temporary option, or a beautiful expression; It is the key that sets the standard for the existence of the authentic Christian, who does not fear anything or anyone; He is only afraid of not being faithful to Christ until the end.
Staying is the opposite of abandoning, leaving, letting yourself be carried away by comfort, preferring yourself over others. Abiding in Him entails being willing to be rejected, mocked, lacerated and crucified as He was. The counterpart is simply incomparable: “ask what you wish, and it will be done.”
But in this gospel we are also told about pruning. Pruning plants is not cutting at the bottom, at the root, but cutting at the top, and that always hurts and hurts, although it also reactivates and revitalizes so that fertility is even higher. Sometimes the Father, the farmer, makes us go through the trance of pruning, of purification, not to hurt us but to heal us, not to bind us but to free us, not to take life from us but to give it more abundantly. God our Father knows well what we need at all times. Perhaps the present moment in the history of humanity and of the Church is a moment of pruning, of purification, of liberation, of healing. The pandemic is not divine punishment but one more test that will strengthen us in faith and make us grow in charity and brotherly love. Remaining in the Lord in this very particular moment, not distancing ourselves from Him, continuing to live communion with Him within the Church, in fidelity to our pastors, through prayer and the sacraments, is the secret of a sensible and sensible Christian life. fruitful as disciples of Jesus. He himself promised us and fulfills it by remaining in our midst, in a very special way, in the Eucharist.
Finally, we remember that we are beginning the month of May, the month of Mary, the month of mothers and flowers. Pope Francis has invited us to pray the rosary every day, in union with all the Catholics of the world, asking Jesus through Mary for all those affected by the pandemic and for this scourge of humanity to come to an end soon . The Virgin Mary, as the mother and first disciple of Jesus, lived and shared the joy of the resurrection of her Son with the first disciples; Likewise, in the present moment, he wants to animate our hearts saddened or torn by uncertainty and discouragement, he wants to share our sufferings, he wants to be a source of joy and new hope for those of us who continue to believe and trust in his Son Jesus, and we want to remain in He.
Mother, we come from the tumult of life. Physical and mental fatigue, overwhelmed by the future, the real needs of the present, disappointment with the panorama that surrounds us, invade our entire being.
It is not easy at all to accept with peace everything that happens around us … the things in which we had placed so much hope, disappoint us. The people we love and help reject us or try to take advantage of our goodness. Future projects are fading. Families break up. Society is disintegrating.
That is why we come to you, oh Mother, because in each one of us an insecure child walks. But with you we feel strong and confident. We are very encouraged to know that we have a Mother like you. Guided by your hand, supported by your arm, we can resume the path of life each day with new hope.
Renew us completely so that we can see the beauty of life. Stand up so that we can walk without fear. Give us your hand so that we never stray from your Son Jesus. Give us your blessing so that our presence in the world is always a sign of peace and brotherhood. Amen.