My brothers and sisters, today we heard that God the Father is glorified when we bear much fruit and become the disciples of Jesus." [Jn. 15:8] This is the spiritual message that is being handed down to us today through the readings of the Holy Scriptures that we have just heard.
In one verse that we heard during the Gospel Reading, Jesus summarized how we can bear much fruit. He said that those who abide in Him and He in them bear much fruit. In other words, those who embrace a spiritual life by seeking to grow in holiness, in them Jesus dwells.
The relationship that we should have with Jesus is compared to the branch of a vine. While the vine takes its nourishment from the ground, the branches receive their food and water from the vine. The vine is the source from which the branches receive their living water that gives them life and makes them bloom. If the living water was to be cut off from the branches, they would dry up, die and decay.
Comparing Himself to the true vine that gives life to the branches, Jesus stated that the Heavenly Father is the vinegrower. This parallel echoes the fact that it is the Heavenly Father who sent Jesus, His only beloved Son, for the salvation of mankind. Also, it is the Father who has granted the Son to have life in Himself as He, the Father, has life in Himself. [Jn. 5:26] Through the grace of the Father as the vinegrower, the vine and the branches have life. Through the loving care of the Father, the branches are nurtured as one with the vine so tha tthey may reach their fullness of maturity.
The vine seeks to feed the branches to ensure that they will receive the maximum spiritual food and living water that they need to bear much fruit. Should any of the branches reject the Source of Life and bear no fruit, the Heavenly Father prunes them from the vine. As long as the branches cooperate with the vine, they will freely receive life. A failure to cooperate means an inescapable death, eternal separation from the Lord Jesus.
As branches, there are many ways that we can abide in Jesus and receive life from Him so we can bear fruit. One way is by hearing the Word of God. Through the Spirit of Truth, the Word of God feeds our souls. So powerful is the Word of God that it "is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit..." [Heb. 4:12] The Word of God has the power to transform those who sincerely seek the truth.
During today's Gospel Reading, the word "fruit" was applied in its singular form. What does it mean? If it were in the plural form, it would be a reference to our spiritual works. But this is not the case. Here, the word "fruit" was a reference to our personal sanctification by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is a reference to the "fruit" of the Holy Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." [Gal. 5:22] These are the virtues that must shine through us so that we may remain attached to the vine as our source of life.
Towards the end of the Gospel Reading, Jesus stated that those who abide in Him and His words abide in them, they should ask the Heavenly Father whatever they wish and it will be done for them. This is a very powerful statement that gives us a clue as to how to pray. If we pray to God and expect to receive a positive response, then we should shine in the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot be like disobedient children who expect their parents to reward them for their disobedience. By obeying God, by abiding in Jesus and Jesus in us, we have the assurance that God the Father will hear and answer our prayers that will spiritually benefit us and others.
During today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how St. Paul and the disciples of Jesus were striving to bear much fruit. We heard that when Paul arrived in Jerusalem to join the disciples, they were already shining in the fruit of the Spirit. When Paul tried to join them, the disciples avoided him with great fear. They knew that he had a reputation of persecuting the Christians.
Shining in the fruit of the Spirit, Barnabas came forward and took Paul to the apostles. On behalf of Paul, he explained to the apostles how Jesus had spoken to Paul and consequently how Paul had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus. Now Barnabas did not have to do that. He could have minded his own business. But, shining in the fruit of the Spirit, Barnabas testified regarding his spiritual joy by sharing with the others the Divine intervention of Jesus in the life of Paul. Barnabas aspired to show love and kindness towards Paul. He aspired to see the growth of the Church and its children.
Consequently, Paul preached the Word of God in Jerusalem with the disciples, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. And finally, when his life was threatened because of his service to the Lord, the believers took Paul to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
In those days, the disciples of Jesus bore much fruit. Their reward was to enjoy peace and growth in the number of those who joined the Church in Judea, Galilee and Samaria.
During today's Second Reading from the First Letter of John, we were commanded to love in truth and in action. Words or speech are not love. It is just talking... talk with no action. True love shines in truth and action. True love shines in the keeping of promises that have been made. It is not surrounded by one broken promise after another.
How do we know that we are in the truth? It is by listening to our hearts. Some call their hearts their guardian angel that speaks to them. Others call it the inner voice or an inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In truth, it is the new spiritual life that we received through faith in Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism. The heart is our new life in Christ.
When we do wrong, our heart condemns us. Our new life in Christ encourages us to shine in the fruit before God. God knows what is on our minds because He is greater. It is He who gave us the gift of the spiritual life in Christ. At the same time, He wrote His laws on our hearts so that we may always know what is right and what is wrong.
If we walk in the fruit of the Spirit, our spiritual life does not condemn us. If our spiritual life in Christ does not condemn us, we have boldness before God. Because we obey His commandments and do what please Him, we can ask God for anything that will spiritually benefit us or others, and we will receive it.
God commands us to believe in the Most Holy Name of Jesus and to love one another. Those who obey this command abide in Jesus and He abides in them. How do we know that Jesus abides in us? It is by the indwelling Holy Spirit who was given to us by God during the Sacrament of Baptism. For if we shine in the fruit of the Spirit, then the Spirit of Jesus is within us. If the Spirit of Jesus is within us, then Jesus abides in us.
My brothers and sisters, this is what God calls us to do. Through our actions, we are to bear much fruit as disciples of Jesus. Through our faith in Jesus and our love towards others, the Heavenly Father is glorified. When worldly children are well behaved, through their actions, their parents are praised. When we as Christians bear much fruit, through our living faith in Christ, God the Father is glorified.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, let us go forth this week and glorify the Heavenly Father through our living faith in Jesus Christ.
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Homily for today is from Catholic Doors Ministry;