Gospel Reflection: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Reading 1

Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples,
but they were all afraid of him,
not believing that he was a disciple.
Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles,
and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord,
and that he had spoken to him,
and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem,
and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.
He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists,
but they tried to kill him.
And when the brothers learned of this,
they took him down to Caesarea
and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.


Jn 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."


When a loved one stops practicing the faith or walks away from the Sacramental Life of the Church, it breaks our hearts. Many of us have experienced this among our own families and friends. It hits harder than when a generation stops a family tradition or does not celebrate an aspect of their cultural heritage any longer. Our family of faith feels this absence deeply.

Our readings shed light and hope on this situation. The Gospel reminds us of Our Lord’s familiar words, “I am the Vine, you are the branches.” They give us a beautiful image of the union with Christ to which we are called by our Baptism. He expresses a deep desire to strengthen and prune our branches so that He can bear much fruit through them. He also cautions us of what will happen if we allow our branches to wither from His life-giving Vine.

Yet, no matter how withered a branch might become, it can be restored to the True Vine. Consider Saint Paul in the First Reading, who centered much of his life on persecuting the followers of Jesus. After he saw the Lord and turned away from this wickedness, he became a faithful disciple and zealous preacher of the Gospel. Paul’s conversion was powerful, and his connection to Christ and the Church became strong and profoundly fruitful.

Instead of losing hope, we unite ourselves in prayer for the members of our family of faith who have walked away. We pray that they may see Christ as the True Vine, the One who nourishes, strengthens, and purifies us in the Sacraments.

Perhaps you are reading this reflection and are considering a return to the Church’s life. Christ, the True Vine, awaits you. To abide in Him is to abide in His Church. God the Father, the Vine Grower, desires to bear great fruit in your life through your relationship and connection to His Son. We cannot bear this fruit on our own. Through the Sacrament of Penance, He will mend whatever was broken from the Vine and will restore the source of life and nourishment for you. He invites you to remain in Him.

Please be assured of my prayers for you before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+ Bishop Schlert


Photo: Lawrence, O.P.


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