Fr Vincent's reflections on the 5th Sunday of Easter 2021
This Sunday we hear the very familiar parable of “The Vine and the Branches.” We easily understand this to apply to our spiritual life, when in truth it applies to the whole of our life. All we want to do and all we accomplish is because of our union with Jesus. Let the grace of the Easter Resurrection give you new life and help you to bear fruit abundantly for God and others.
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 5th Sunday of Easter 2021
Read the script:
Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 2, 2021)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, let us pray:
Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is John 15:1-8.
✠ 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.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
God has placed within the human soul a desire to be productive. People truly are not satisfied just existing; we want to do something, make something, express our creativity. Now, that creativity is as varied as are the people of the world. Some people are creative in artistic ways; that can be as varied as artistic mediums: sewing, cooking, photography, song writing, etc. Some people are creative in scholarly ways: teachers, business people, scientists, medical professionals. Some pursue creativity for pure personal gain; these people think nothing of others except how it benefits themselves. Yet, every person has a God-given desire to be more than just “nothing for no one.”
Everyone of us, in seeking to be creative and productive, experience failure. That is the reality of being imperfect and living in an imperfect world. Failing over and over again can lead some people to give up trying; they deny their own desire to make something of their life. Maybe they blame others, or the world, or even themselves. They surrender to failure as if that is all there will ever be. They need inspiration to rediscover their ability to be creative.
Others who experience constant failure can accept it as a challenge to keep going and find new ways and new resources in the creative process. Their desire to create leads them to try harder and harder. Some think they must find new ways and resources strictly within themselves to succeed and produce. They never give up, which is great, but they become convinced that success is purely personal. These are too self-focused. Others acknowledge that success comes from seeking and accepting the help of others beyond themselves. They embrace their own limitations and understand that humanity is created to be in relationship with other people and with God.
This last group of people – those who desire to create, but fail at first or even often, yet don’t give up, and actually discover the benefit of accepting the help of others – are the people of today’s Gospel parable. They are the branches attached to the vine that is Jesus Christ who bear fruit. I hope that you and I belong to this group.
We cannot truly succeed in our pursuit of creativity if we are not attached to God, to Jesus Christ, the source of life and goodness. So every form of creativity is made possible by maintaining and improving our connection to Jesus through prayer and worship. If any of our creative intentions fall into the self-serving realm, Jesus will prune that sinfulness out of us (if we allow him). When we fail because we disconnect from Jesus, or if the world tears us away, Jesus is ready to “graft” us back on to the vine and help us to persevere and bear fruit. When we realize the “fruitfulness” of our creativity is for the good of others more than for ourselves, then we are truly being filled with the grace of Jesus, and we will bear fruit abundantly.
The Easter Season is about understanding that my life is not my own. God created me in the beginning, and when I sinned, He saved me through the death and resurrection of Jesus. God gives me new life in the risen life of Jesus and blesses me with creative fruitfulness to the degree that I am willing to connect my life to Jesus and allow him to be the source of my productivity and success. Whatever I do, if I know that I do it for God to bless others, then I will discover the real productivity of my life and the happiness of life here and life eternal in Heaven.
And now, I would like to offer the tri-part Easter Blessing:
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
Bow down for the blessing.
May God, who by the Resurrection of his Only Begotten Son
was pleased to confer on you
the gift of redemption and of adoption,
give you gladness by his blessing. R/. Amen.
May he, by whose redeeming work
you have received the gift of everlasting freedom,
make you heirs to an eternal inheritance. R/. Amen.
And may you, who have already risen with Christ
in Baptism through faith,
by living in a right manner on this earth,
be united with him in the homeland of heaven. R/. Amen.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.