SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION FROM VATICAN RADIO
(English version exclusive to this website)
Translated and summarized from the homily by Fr Fabio Rosini
MAY 2ND FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER 2021
GOSPEL John 15:1-8
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: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
SHORTER HOMILY . . . Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel reveals to us the secret of Christian life and greatness. The phrase, “Without me you can do nothing”, is not a threat from Jesus, but a simple statement of the truth that the Christian way of life is not founded on our own initiatives. You might object that most people do things independently of Christ. Will their efforts really come to “nothing”? Yes, all of the things that are done for the glory of this world will not endure one jot beyond this world; they will not lead to eternity. The works of Christ, the works of eternal life, are different. Jesus says that the disciples are “pure” on account of the word that he has spoken to them. The notion of purity in the Bible borrows from the chemical notion of being of a single substance with no contaminants present. The word of Christ has the capacity to purify (when we accept it) by penetrating into us and cutting away that which is extraneous – “circumcision of the heart”. When we act independently of this word that God speaks to our hearts, then we are like the branches that are cut away and thrown in the fire. Each one of us has at some point in our lives been touched by the word of God. But this word must be received and placed at the centre of our existence. In welcoming this word, we are called to live the Easter mystery continually; in other words, a continuous liberation from that which does not bear fruit. Recognizing our weaknesses, every day we must return to this word which separates light from darkness in our lives, and so every day we become a new creation. If we are not rooted in Christ, then our works have no consistency or fruitfulness. Even in the Church it is possible to do works that are useless because they are based solely on our efforts and preoccupations. “Whoever remains in me bears fruit”. This fruitfulness is not according to a quantity that the world calculates but according to heaven’s measure. How many saints lived lives that did not seem to bear concrete results but upon their deaths great fruitfulness was realised! The Christian life is not a story of worldly success. St Stephen, the first martyr, seemed a failure and died an early death, but his martyrdom bore fruit in Paul, the greatest evangelizer of history. If we seek to root our lives in something other than Christ, then we will produce little or nothing. Let us root ourselves in Christ, preserving the luminous word that he has spoken to our hearts. Thus, we will be his disciples and bear much fruit.