May 2, 2021 Fifth Sunday of Easter

Welcome Father Cyril Today’s Readings: Acts 9:26-31 | 1 John 3:18-24 | John 15:1-8

«I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.»

The Lord Jesus speaks to us today of his Father and of his activity in the world. That is his mission among us: to reveal to us who the Father is, to tell us what he does and what he intends to do in response to our actions. The Lord Jesus wants to warn us, he wants to make us understand that although his Father watches over us as the Father of us all, as he who is infinitely good and infinitely kind, he is also the one who judges us with equity, for our good and for our benefit in eternal life. The Father takes away the branch that bears no fruit, and he prunes the branch that bears fruit in order for it to bear even more.

«You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.»

The word of God, that which Christ addresses to us daily through his Church, is the mysterious means by which the Father gives us his grace, not only so that we might bear fruit, fruit for everlasting life, but also so that we might be pruned, that is, purified of all our faults and defects, above all those which are the most habitual. The grace of God allows us to grow and restores in us the creation that fell through original sin: through the almighty grace of God, we are brought into closer conformity with the image of God that has been in us since the creation but which had been corrupted by original sin. This is the entire work of the Father of mercy, the work of he who has created everything in his Word, which is his Son Jesus.

«Abide in me, and I in you.»

The Lord Jesus invites us to abide in him, and he will do so again several times during his discourse. This shows us how important it is to do so. Indeed, if we pay close attention to all these words of the Lord, we will soon note that Jesus insists on precisely this point: the Lord will not abide in us unless we first abide in him. He says: “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Jesus speaks in a particular order: first he expresses the fact that the Church must abide in him, and then he speaks of the fact that he himself is called to abide in the Church. The first is the condition of the second.

«I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.»

This is a good comparison, one that is closely related to reality! For the fruit of the vine is the grape, the fruit that is used in making wine. Now, what we are about to witness is precisely the consecration of wine into the Blood of Christ, and we shall hear these words of the Lord: “This is the cup of my Blood!” It is this Blood which had been shed and poured out for the forgiveness of our sins and in order to open to us the door of Heaven! It is thanks to this Blood that we can receive the strength necessary to escape the fire destined to punish all those who will have refused to abide in the Lord. Without a doubt, the vine is a beautiful and magnificent symbol: that of the love and mercy of God towards all men!

«If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.»

The Lord Jesus teaches us what we must do to abide in him. His words must abide in us, we must meditate deeply upon them, in order that we might be one with them. For it is then that the Word of God itself will come into us in order to abide and rest in our soul. So, if the Word of God abides in us, if we are children of God in Christ, then we can glorify the Father, our Father, he who created us in his Son, and who does not cease recreating us in Him, the Christ, the Lord of all the universe! So let us prepare ourselves for today’s communion: let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to receive for us and with us this great sacrament, which will powerfully help us to abide forever in God!

Source: Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen, Image: Anonymous, Eastern Orthodox icon of Jesus Christ as the True Vine