5th Week of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 15:1-6
Some persons who had come from Judea to Antioch were teaching the brothers in this way, “Unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
Because of this there was trouble, and Paul and Barnabas had fierce arguments with them. For Paul told the people to remain as they were when they became believers. Finally those who had come from Jerusalem suggested that Paul and Barnabas and some others go up to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the apostles and elders. They were sent on their way by the Church. As they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they reported how the non-Jews had turned to God, and there was great joy among all the brothers and sisters.
On their arrival in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the Church, the apostles and the elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them. Some believers, however, who belonged to the party of the Pharisees, stood up and said that non-Jewish men must be circumcised and instructed to keep the law of Moses. So the apostles and elders met together to consider this matter.
Gospel: John 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine and my Father is the vinegrower. If any of my branches doesn’t bear fruit, he breaks it off; and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, that it may bear even more fruit.
“You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you; live in me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you if you don’t remain in me.
“I am the vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not remain in me is thrown away as they do with branches and they wither. Then they are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned.
“If you remain in me and my words in you, you may ask whatever you want and it will be given to you. My Father is glorified when you bear much fruit: it is then that you become my disciples.”
Jesus called himself the true vine, thus implying that there is a false one. The vine was the symbol of Israel; many of the prophets had used the image: “the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel” (Isaiah 4:7), “Israel is an empty vine) (Hosea 10:1). The Lord is saying it is not enough to be a branch of the vine that is Israel, it is not enough to be a child of Abraham; we have to be grafted to Christ himself. Applying it to ourselves, we might say: it is not enough to be a nominal Catholic, to have your name on the books, you have to know and live the distinctive thing that is the life of faith.
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