April 29th Fifth Sunday of Easter B

Introduction

Our gospel reminds us that when we are one with Christ, like a branch on a vine, we bear fresh green leaves and much fruit. Thats why we come here to mass and communion, so that his life will grow in us, until we flower into eternal life. Lets confess ways we fail in that prayerful unity with the Lord..

Homily

Christ tells us today that only union with Him makes our lives green and fruitful. Reading scripture, regular mass, the sacraments and personal prayer enable that union. Without such grafting onto the true vine we wither, branches fit only for the fire. The old people knew this in their faithfulness to mass and devotions. My own mother’s prayerfulness is possibly the reason why I’m a priest. I remember when young if I wanted money for the “pictures” I’d creep into her room and find her praying.”Look in my purse she’d whisper”. When our brother was lost in London for 3 days due to a stroke, she prayed day and night for his safety. He recovered: “Sure we stormed heaven” my mother said.

Prayer brings us close to God, answers our needs and in hard times gives us untold inner strength. As Christ says, once were united to Him by prayer, scripture and the eucharist our lives light up and we can illumine all around us. In effect, the key to sound faith is a close relationship with Christ, immersion in his Spirit. For too long we put the cart before the horse, we stressed morality rather than spirituality, doctrine rather than a relationship with God. But faith’s not an ideology like the “isms” of our day. Its not about enforced ideas but union with the living God in Christ. Thereby we become like spring buds, blossoming into green life here and for eternity. Thats why Christ himself frequently went apart to pray and commune with his Father; and He gave us the great way to union with God, the mass. Its readings, shared prayer and communion brings us so close to our heavenly Lord, that as Paul says, we’re practically gods ourselves. Union with God raises us up to more than we can be.

Thats why Christians from the beginning gathered as one for Sunday eucharist. Acts say they met together for the prayers and breaking of bread on the Sabbath, the day set aside for prayer. The second commandment says: “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day”. That’s Sunday for us, which is the Lord’s day, when he rose from the dead. Weekday mass cant replace Sunday mass. The church obliges us to attend on Sunday, not to burden but enrich us.

For Sunday mass is our communal celebration. We gather as God’s family to become one with Christ, and then go out to live that union in the week ahead. For grafted onto Christ, the true vine, at mass, the sap of His grace and goodness flows in our veins. This gives us his infinite courage and power to face life, and we light up the world around us by this engrafted goodness within.

In effect, mass and daily personal prayer not onlu light us up within but enable us to carry on Christ’s saving work. Mary in Medjugorje says in message after message; pray my children, read the Bible, attend holy mass, pray the rosary, in that way you’ll save a violent unbelieving world. That world passes away and leaves us empty at last, but united with Christ through personal and eucharistic prayer we gai nthe fullness of peace, happiness, truth, beauty, love and salvation for this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people, one with Christ the vine and keeping his life green in us by mass, communion and personal prayer so that we’ll light up our world, lets profess our faith..

Prayers of the Faithful

For our Holy father the Pope and all pastors of the church that, deeply rooted in Christ the true vine, the source of all life and holiness, they may radiate that life to the whole world..

For civic leaders that they may have the wisdom to facilitate people’s spiritual life and development, the only thing that matters in the long run..

For our youth that grafting themselves onto Christ the true vine and life of the world through faithful eucharistic and personal prayer, they may be green shoots of hope and grace to the world..

For ourselves in our homes, workplaces and communities that we may stay closely united to Christ and the church through prayer and practice of the faith so that we may be his light, peace and life to our chidren and all around us..

For the sick, aged, lonely and lost, that heeding Christ’s words: “come to me you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest”, through our care they may know his love for them…

For the dead that having been with Christ in life, like branches on the tree of life, they may be united with him forever in heaven and flower into glory through our prayers for them here..

And we ask all these our prayers through Christ, our only lord of faith, life, love, truth and glory forever and ever, amen.

Reflection

Theres a story hold of St.Padre Pio, the modern mystic. A person entering his room found Jesus talking with Him. Whatever the truth of that, his union with Christ in prayer was legendary. Millions would come to be at his mass. It lasted two hours, and he often spent eight hours afterwards in the confessional. There, they say, he could see in people’s souls, what was holding them back spiritually. We may not all be like that, but we can imitate his prayerful union with Christ. Lets ask Mary to deepen that union through devout masses and daily personal prayer..Hail Mary

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