Sixth Sunday of Easter

As we look at today’s Gospel, we notice that our Lord’s words come as a climax to an impassioned plea about love.  He uses the word “love” no less than eight times in sixteen lines of His speech.  Nowhere else in the gospels does the theme of love dominate a text so strongly.

Since Jesus is about to die, His words on love become His legacy to us—a legacy He would act out by laying down His life for us literally on the cross and sacramentally in the Eucharist.  Moreover, it is a legacy that leads us to do the same thing—to make love our supreme value and to lay down our lives for one another.

Laying down one’s life in love may sometimes involve real death.  However, more often it means a lot of little laying downs of our selfishness for the good of someone else, especially when we are not in the mood.

These laying downs might take the form of giving up some television time to call someone just to be friendly, or going out of our way to visit someone just to be friendly, or going out of our way to visit someone who is sick, or writing a note of sympathy to someone who is grieving.

We lay down our lives whenever we leave aside our comfort to welcome a guest, or lend a helping hand to a neighbor, or volunteer our services at a parish activity.

There is no greater love we can show to our family or friends than to give something personally, or to set aside something that is very much a part of our life.

Jesus lives in our love because He laid down His life on the cross for our salvation.  What kind of legacy will we leave behind us?  Is there any cause or any person for whom we are laying down our lives in selfless service and sacrifices?

God Bless

Msgr. Powell

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Jesus in this gospel, draws on a sight familiar to His listeners– the grapevines that grew all over Palestine– to teach them about the mystical relationship He desires between Himself and believers.  Notice that Jesus does not say that He is the trunk; He is rather the whole vine.  We are the branches that make up the vine.  We receive life from Him not by being merely connected to Him; we share in His life by becoming part of Him.  Jesus, not only gives us life; He lives life in us, so that we are fully united with Him and live in Him.  When we are united with Jesus in Faith, we actually live with His life and love with His love.

The source of this life is the Father, the vine-grower.  He “planted” Jesus in our world so that we could share His life and produce the fruits of love, and He “tends”  the vine by guiding Jesus toward His final loving sacrifice.  The wise vine-grower knows that a vine requires careful pruning to be fruitful.  The fruit bearing branches must be cut away to produce more fruit.  Vines allowed to grow without pruning will produce smaller and smaller grapes as the vines gradually return to their wild state.   The pruning represents the trials and suffering required of those who unite their lives with the loving and total sacrifice of Jesus.

This mystical union between Jesus and believers is expressed by the word translated as “remain” or “abide” : “Abide in me as I abide in you ”(Verse 4).  It suggests a deeply personal and lasting union of lives.  The Branches abide in the vine so that they can bear fruit; the believer abides in Jesus to produce the lasting fruit of unselfish love.

God Bless,

Msgr. Powell