Fifth Sunday in Easter time – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 27 avril 2021

He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit

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# In Christian theology, we speak of a mystical union when we describe the close personal existential bond, the communion, that unites the Christian with Jesus Christ and by which he shares in the saving benefits of His life, death and resurrection. This communion is called « mystical » because it is achieved in a mysterious and supernatural way. Within Christianity there are different approaches to the subject of mystical union. For Roman Catholicism and parts of Anglicanism and Lutheranism, this bond is established by baptism and nourished by the sacraments, which are considered the privileged means by which grace is communicated.

Mysticism accentuates so much the identification of Christ with the Christian that, it claims, a sort of total fusion takes place where, however, they remain distinct persons. Religious rationalism conceives of God as a reality immanent in the world and in every human spirit. Christ would be immanent in nature and in the human spirit. Salvation is therefore conceived in a universalist way, independently of the individual’s conscious adherence of faith to Christ. This is why he often quotes the biblical text : « For as all die in Adam, so also in Christ shall all be made alive » (1 Corinthians 15:22).

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From the Gospel according to John

« I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch that bears no fruit in me he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  You are already worlds because of the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so you also unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is cast away like the branch and dries up, and then they gather it up and throw it into the fire and burn it.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what you will, and it will be given you. 8 In this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. »  (Jn 15, 1-8)

What does it mean to be a Christian ?

With this page of John’s Gospel, we are at the heart of faith: Jesus finishes by explaining to his disciples what it means to be his disciple. Jesus is not just a guide or a companion, a friend or a brother. He is our life. He is alive in each one of us and makes us live with his divine life. He teaches us that he is the true vine, but not the only one; he is the vine, the trunk to which he wants to connect all those he brings to life : « I am the vine and you are the branches.  »  

In the first reading we have the example of someone who allowed himself to be pruned.  On the road to Damascus, Paul was stripped of everything and grafted into the true vine that was Christ, of which he was to be one of the most fruitful branches. We Christians are associated with him through faith and baptism. What God expects of us is that we are a living branch that bears fruit. All this will only be truly possible if we are connected to Christ; there is a word that appears seven times in a few lines, and it is the verb « abide ». « Abide in me! « 

Jesus tells us. Christians are men and women who abide in Christ. The inevitable question then arises: abide in Jesus, yes, but how? How can we be sure that we will meet him? It is not the same as with our neighbour in the neighbourhood or in the village. We do not meet Jesus directly, but through intermediaries. We have three ways of doing this: through the Word of God, through prayer and the sacraments, and through daily life.

The way of the Word of God: to abide in Christ, we must abide in his Word. We must give ourselves time to receive him. This Word of God is given to us through the Bible, the Gospel, a magazine, a religious book, a Christian programme on the radio or television, and also through the Word proclaimed at Sunday Mass. Do we give ourselves time to receive this Word? The second way to remain in Christ is through prayer and the sacraments.

To remain in his presence, we must speak to him and listen to him. This is faithful, regular and frequent prayer, not just a little prayer from time to time. We talk to Jesus to entrust someone to him or to say thank you or to ask him to enlighten our lives. Prayer helps us to remain in communion with Christ. This communion is also achieved through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist: it is the source and summit of the whole Christian life. It allows us to be united with Christ, to become one with him. We receive his love in order to live it in our daily lives.

The third way is that of daily life: what makes a life worth living is not fine words but mutual love, gestures of sharing, acceptance and solidarity. Let us not be discouraged when we have been unfaithful, when we feel like dead branches. God is bigger than our hearts and knows everything.  His merciful love can always bind us to the true vine and make us bear fruit in abundance.

In short, what Jesus asks of us is to be connected to Him in every situation of our lives. Then our lives will bear fruit and God will be proud of us. It is here that we will find the true meaning of our lives.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian sites

◊ St Beuno’s Outreach : click here to read the paper →  Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B, 2 May, 2021

◊ Loyola Press : click here to read the paper →   Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

  I Am the Vine. Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter, Year B.

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