5th Sunday of Easter, Year B
Psalm 22:26-27, 29, 30, 31-32 (26a)
1 John 3:18-24
May 2, 2021
The story told in the Acts of the Apostles is the story of the early church. Acts tells us how “the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in fear of the Lord and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”
The church was already facing persecution and resistance in some places yet it was growing by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was at work through Paul who “had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.” Yet, it was not only through Paul. When Barnabas heard of Paul, he brought him to the Apostles. It was one church working with individuals working together.
We are part of this church. Thus, the story told in the Acts of the Apostles is not just the story of the early church 2,000 years ago. It is our story.
We are to belong to the truth, the truth that Jesus brings. If we belong to the truth, we will “keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
It is in keeping his commandments that we “remain in him” and “he remains in us.”
Is this not what we seek when we come to church, to have Jesus remain in us?
We need to be connected to God. We are created to know God, to be loved by God, and to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul.
To help us understand how we need him, Jesus uses the image of the vine. He is “the true vine.” His Father “is the vine grower” and we “are the branches.”
What happens if the branches are cutoff from the vine?
The branches cannot exist without the nutrients and water they receive through the vine. The branches cannot bear fruit on their own. The branches need to remain connected to the vine.
We need to remain connected to Jesus. How do we do this?
One way is through the Word, the Word we receive from God in the Bible. The words we read in the Bible were written down between two and three thousand years ago but it is not an “old” word. It is a living word that even today tells us the story of God’s love for his people and how we are to live.
This is why we read from the Bible at every Mass. It is part of how we are to remain in him.
How else do we remain in Jesus for, as Jesus said, “without me you can do nothing”?
We need the Eucharist.
When we commit mortal sin, we break our relationship with God. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we are celebrating the sacrifice of Jesus given his life for us on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be worthy to receive the Eucharist.
What is it that we receive? It is the Body and Blood of Jesus.
We need the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Do you appreciate what we celebrate and receive in the Eucharist? Unfortunately, over time we sometimes take it for granted. It is good for us to reflect on what the Eucharist is.
Today, we have seven children in our parish who will receive their First Communion. To prepare for this day, they have been learning about the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.
This is a very special day for them. It is a day to be celebrated. The children will be dressed up. It is a day to celebrate. In their Baptism, they are already children of God but they come to know Jesus in a new way in what they receive in the Eucharist.
As you come to Mass, do you think about what remaining in Jesus means to you?
As you come forth to receive Communion, do you think about what receiving Communion means for you? It is not just bread and wine. It has been transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is Jesus.
Think about the way we receive Jesus. We do not reach into the ciborium to take Jesus for ourselves like we would popcorn out of a bowl.
No, we receive Jesus by holding out our hands, one hand over the over to make a throne to receive Jesus as our king. Then, we place the Eucharist in our mouth so that we may become what we eat, that we may become the Body of Christ.
And so we remain in Jesus and He remains in us.