Catholic homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter Year B
Theme: The importance of living in the Lord.
By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
Homily for Sunday May 2 2021
First reading: Act 9:26-31
Second reading: 1 John 3:18-24
Gospel: John 15:1-8
Beloved in Christ, our Lord Jesus gives life, he delivers us from darkness and brings us to confident sight. By his resurrection he brings us triumph over death and knowledge of the Father and full communion with him. At the same time he shows us what we should do to draw benefit from the gifts his presence brings: we come to him, believe in him, follow him and remain in him.
Jesus used to employ familiar things to the Jews in order to teach them the divine truth. So in our liturgy today, he uses the illustration of the vine – for grapevine is very familiar to the Jews, for it is their national fruit. So Jesus uses it to drive home the importance of living in the Lord. ” I am the vine and you are the branches… abide in me… bear much fruit.” (Cf. John 15:1-8)
To be a Christian and to not remain united with Christ means to become dead and fruitless. I don’t think any real Christian would love to live so. It is terrible to imagine living one’s life in this way. As if it is not enough to be fruitless, the fate of a Christian who does not remain united to Christ is even more terrible to imagine: like a fruitless branch, he is cut off, he withers up, and then he is burned up with the other dead branches in a fire.
To be a Christian united to Christ also means to endure being pruned of the parts that are dead or that lead to death so that we can bear fruit. While we may ask “What is the fruit we are to bear?” we should also bear in mind that it is endlessly varied, but it consists of every good act that a human being who is also a follower of Christ can produce. Part of this fruitfulness is to proclaim the truth of Christ as St. Paul did, teach this truth to the next generation like David exhorts us in the Psalm, moderate our conduct according to this truth as John advises, and stay united to it like Our Lord himself teaches us in the parable of the vine.
If we are separated from God, we simply will not thrive. To thrive, we must have contact with God – like an adaptor being plugged into electricity. If the adaptor is always connected to the source of electricity, the gadget which is connected to the adaptor will never be low on battery, it is always full bar; however if the adaptor is plugged-out, then by and by, the battery will drain out. But for us, that contact can only be achieved by keeping His commandment – love. “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” (John 13:34).
This same love St. John is telling us today must not just be something of lips service but something of action. For me, the logic seems simple enough. If we do not love, we cannot be connected with God because God is Love; and if we are not connected with God we cannot be sure to receive from him whatever we ask. That is the point St. John is making when he says “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us” (1 John 3: 18-24).
Paul becomes for us an example of what happens when we “abide in Christ” and are connected with God. We become like Christ, filled with love for God and filled with zeal to share what we have discovered. Paul’s life was not easy nor is ours. Our faithfulness to God is challenged everyday. We are tempted to tell little lies, we are tempted to cheat on people and spouses. Despite the Resurrection, we still sin. For some this is so discouraging that they give up. Our message today is to never give up. We are to “abide in Christ.” This means that despite our sinfulness, despite troubles, despite challenges, despite frustrations, we must choose to stay with Christ anyway. If we cut ourselves off, like trimming a branch from a vine, we will die. We can live only if we are in contact with the Vine.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*