2 May 2021 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
First Reading: Acts 9:26-31
When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus Saul had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.
So Saul went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. When the believers learned of it, they brought Saul down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
Second Reading: 1 John 3:18-24
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and God knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases God.
And this is God’s commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another; just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
Gospel: John 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
“Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
Last week it was sheep: this week, the vine. Jesus offers us another (agricultural) image to explain the mystery of his offering of himself, and our belonging to him, our being part of him, which comes about through the sacrament of Baptism. This is, as was stated earlier, the period of Mystagogy, when the newly baptised are helped to see what life in Jesus Christ really means. Today this comes out strongly for all of us, with two of the three readings emphasising the moral aspects of life in Christ: it is not simply enough to “belong” to him: our belonging must be shown by the works we do, by the fruits we bear – while remembering of course that we cannot bear fruit except in him.