In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we hear that [Saul] “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.” Just a few verses later we hear “The church … was at peace.” For some reason this juxtaposition strikes me as funny. But there is great coherence in the Liturgy of the Word between the readings, nevertheless. At the end of this passage from Acts we hear that the church “was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”
In John’s gospel today, Jesus tells his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower … You are already pruned [by my Father] because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you … because without me you can do nothing … [but] 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.”
And the author of the first letter of John (widely believed to be the same author as that of the fourth gospel) tells us that we must love in deed and truth, keeping God’s commandments to believe in Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded.
I think the introduction to the first letter of John on the U.S. Bishop’s website www.uscb.org/bible/1john/0 provides some useful food for reflection on not only that reading but on the others for today as well:
“… authentic Christian love, ethics, and faith take place only within the historical revelation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The fullness of Christian life as fellowship with the Father must be based on true belief and result in charitable living; knowledge of God and love for one another are inseparable, and error in one inevitable affects the other.
Although the author recognizes that Christian doctrine presents intangible mysteries of faith about Christ, he insists that the concrete Christian life brings to light the deeper realities of the gospel.”
So what are some possible “takeaways” (pardon the jargon) from today’s readings for us, the community of Padre Serra Parish in Camarillo, in 2018? How about these:
So, brothers and sisters, let’s encourage one another continually along the way.
Liturgy and Music Minister