YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: ABIDE IN ME AND I IN YOU
BY: Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
Today we are invited to remain in Christ as branches in a vine. We do this by recognizing that God is at work in everyone and by striving to keep His commands and to do what is pleasing to God. Always the Christian life sounds easy and yet is a challenge for us all.
The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles. In the Easter Season we read the whole of the Acts of the Apostles. The Sunday readings give us important portions of the Acts of the Apostles. Saint Paul, formerly Saul, was converted directly by the Lord Jesus. Almost everyone was afraid of him because of his previous persecutions of Christians. It was not easy to come to trust that he was not now simply trying another way to find Christians to put them to death. Finally Barnabas believes in him and is able to convince others to accept him.
The second reading is from the First Letter of Saint John. The teaching today is very simple: we must believe in Jesus and we must love one another. The simple teaching is always difficult to live. Belief in Jesus keeps drawing us deeper and deeper into the mystery of God—or we abandon Jesus entirely. Today many people want to believe in Jesus only as a good man and a good teacher. But it is clear: we must accept Jesus as God or reject Him. And if we accept Jesus as God, then we must love everyone, especially those who mistreat us the most. This is how Jesus lived, even pardoning those who put Him to death.
The Gospel is from Saint John and teaches us that we must cling to Jesus the way that a vine is attached to a branch. Our lives must grow from Jesus. We are part of Him and must live in Him and all the force of our lives must come from Him. The only way to be disconnected from Jesus is to be broken off from Him. We can break ourselves off from Him by choosing to no longer be with him. Sin clearly does not break us off from Him when we choose to repent. So repentance must always be at the heart of our life with Jesus.
On this fifth Sunday of Easter, we are invited to trust those who choose the Lord, even if we know that in the past such people may have been against the Lord. We are invited to deepen our belief in the Lord Jesus and always to be faithful in loving one another. We are invited to cling to the Lord, no matter how we fail or sin. Christ has risen from the dead in order to draw us to Himself. Let us sing alleluia and give thanks to the Lord.
Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico
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