Fifth Sunday of Easter

When you look at a wall covered in ivy it’s hard to see the vines and roots underneath and know where each vine in the vast mesh of foliage starts and where it ends. If you see a brown patch, with the leaves dried and curled up, you know somewhere the connection was severed and the vital sap was cut off to all the vines that had spread from it. In our vital communion with Christ, if we cut ourselves off from him we know that our life will start to wither, and the lives of others as well. The Second Reading encourages us today that if we believe in Our Lord and love one another as he has taught us we’ll stay connected.

In today’s Gospel Jesus describes the vital communion that we share with him using the image of a cultivated vine. Christian life is not just like an ivy, where the source is not easily seen, the growth just seems to spread everywhere, almost parasitically, the contribution is not much more than just a weed covering a wall and beautifying it superficially, and the individuals are lost in the green. Like a grapevine the source is seen (the trunk), fruit is expected (grapes), work is needed so that it bears fruit more abundantly (pruning), and the vines, winding and spreading, have an individuality that is all their own.

A Christian life always shows that it is rooted in Christ. It is measured by the fruits of faith, confidence, and love that John speaks of in today’s Second Reading. An in order to achieve abundant and fruitful growth it involves the cultivation of virtue and pruning (self-mastery and sacrifice). At the same time it doesn’t lose something of the wild: a Christian life doesn’t annihilate the personality of the Christian living it, but, rather, helps him or her to grow more fruitfully in a wonderful symbiosis with God. Let’s ask Our Lord today how we can show the world a need for him, and how we can abide in him not only for life, but to bear much fruit.

Readings: Acts 9:26–31; Psalm 22:26–28, 30–32; 1 John 3:18–24; John 15:1–8.

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