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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Reflection/Homily: Fifth (5th) Sunday of Easter Year B (May 3 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Fifth (5th) Sunday of Easter Year B (May 3 2015)
Theme: Cut off from me, you can do nothing

There is this popular story in the internet about an encounter a Christian had with an atheist. The Christian visited the atheist’s shop to have a haircut and in the course of having the haircut, they argued on the existence of God. The atheist used the existence and abundance of evil in the world to argue against the existence of God. The Christian left the shop and returned later arguing with the barber that barbers do not exist. The atheist was surprised and asked if he had no just encountered him as a barber and the Christian quickly showed him a man whose hair was very bushy and unkempt. The atheist replied, “that is the lot of those who do not come to me and immediately the Christian retorted, God exists but evil is the lot of those who do not go to Him.

This story does not imply that those who go to God often cannot experience one form of evil or the other, but it expresses in concrete terms, the point Jesus is making in today’s gospel reading (Jn. 15:1-8),”cut off from me you can do nothing”. This is because in him we live, move and have our being. The parable of the Vine Jesus presents to us today portrays our utter dependence on God. As branches, we can only bear fruit when we remain firmly attached to the vine. That is to say that when we separate ourselves from the vine, we lose our foundation like a fish out of water, then trials and tribulations will overcome us.

Beloved brethren, today, Jesus is telling us how important it is to remain in union with him. Are there things breaking your union with God? Is your current relationship or work making you break your union with God? One of those things that will make us cut off from God is sin. In our sinfulness, we abandon God’s love for us and stay on our own. Being prone to danger, we are also incapable of sustaining ourselves thereby giving way to our spiritual death. Such sins may include hatred, immorality, anger, revenge, etc. We can also cut off from God by paying little or no attention to the Word of God which is made incarnate in Christ. The Word of God is the food of the spirit, it gives life to our souls and it is the water that purifies our whole being. Through it God speaks to our hearts, directs our spirits, and illumines our vision such that we lack these when we cut off from it. Can you decide today to read a verse in the bible every day to remain one with Christ? 

To remain with the vine, we should also learn to live in love because God is love and whoever lives in love lives in God. This is the message of the second reading (1 John 3:18-24). Living in God’s love implies keeping His commandments which are summarized into love of God and one’s neighbour. As branches of the vine, we cannot also bear fruit unless the vine dresser prunes us. Most often, the difficulties we encounter in life are the ways through which God prunes us to bear much fruits, fruits that will last. Sometimes, it may be to purge us of our sins and at other times, to make us stronger for the journey ahead. In the first reading (Acts 9:26-31), Paul encountered several difficulties and threats of death at the beginning of his Christian life because of the new faith he embraced. God was using those difficulties to prune him and make him stronger for the journey ahead so that he will bear much fruits. Today we enjoy the fruits of Paul’s labour. That is why we should learn to accept most of the difficulties we encounter in life as God’s way of pruning us and we can be certain that God cannot prune us beyond our limits.

Therefore beloved brethren, let us pray today for the grace to remain one with Christ and never cut off from him despite the difficult situations we face in life but rather accept them as the means through which God prunes us. Let us also pray for the grace to love God more and more and manifest this love in all that we do. God loves you.

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