May 2: Fifth Sunday of Easter. Readings: 1. Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22; 2. 1 John 3:18-24; Gospel: John 15:1-8.
As the Easter Season progresses, the Scripture readings impress upon us the empowering presence of the Risen Lord with us, while we live out our own personal vocations.
Paul’s call to become a passionate proclaimer of the Good News began when he encountered the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus. The outcome of that encounter is the subject of this reading from Acts. Having been a violent opponent of the early Christian movement, his dramatic about-turn demonstrates the incredible power of divine action in the post-Resurrection period. Paul is therefore a great example of a life transformed for the sake of building up the church community willed by Jesus the Christ.
That same sense of Jesus’ presence in our lives underpins John’s thoughts in today’s second reading. For believing in God’s Son is the start of a life journey based on love. Loved by God and blessed with hearts seeking what the commandments ask of us, we are led to see ourselves drawn into a way of life that finds great strength in Jesus’ abiding presence.
Jesus’ saying “I am the vine, you are the branches” in today’s Gospel passage from John adds another level of meaning to the biblical theme of this Sunday. The vine image introduces us to the communion of the Father and the Son, an intimate relationship. And as committed members of the Church, we should quickly recognise in the vine and branches imagery our own call to be bonded with Jesus truly risen from the dead.
The focus of these readings is clear enough. It is, however, our responsibility to make their message a reality. Thus, we are urged to be real witnesses to that abiding presence, a presence that empowers us to speak and act in accord with the Good News of Jesus Christ.