FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Also Read: Mass Readings for 02 May 2021
First Reading: Acts 9: 26-31
But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. (27)
Though only six verses are dedicated to describing the events unfolding in the first reading today, it would have taken time, maybe, at least a few days to resolve the matter! It is only after Barnabas testifies to Paul, (still called Saul here) and his work in Jesus’ name, that the apostles are able to accept and embrace him. May we find our Barnabas today; in the midst of all the chaos surrounding us! Living a disciple’s life is tough enough and to have our own Barnabas advocating for us is God’s gift to us! Guess who is our ever-constant Advocate? The Holy Spirit of course. May we know and believe this fact- that if we trust and ask our Advocate, we will be led by him through the dark times! We will trample upon snakes and scorpions and we will not be harmed! (Luke 10:19) Because Christ said so! Therefore our faith today must be strong in all the tests that we face.
When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. (30)
That the believers cared for Saul is evident in the following verses. Having learned of the Hellenists’ plot to kill Saul, the believers send him off to safety. The working of the Holy Spirit can be seen here very evidently! The love and concern showed by the believers and the power to deliver Saul from his enemies naturally came from the Lord through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in powerful and astonishing ways when we submit to him. I pray that we would listen to His promptings as earnestly as we could. It is only when we surrender in humility and faith to our Lord, that we are thus led.
Meanwhile, the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. (31)
Living in the fear of the Lord must precede our every thought, word, action, joy, and suffering. The comforter provides us our every need, as was witnessed in the early church. The church not only had peace but it was also built up too! Today as we search for strength and peace, we know who can provide!
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 22: 26-27, 28, 30, 31-32
Strength and Peace
They shall eat and be satisfied, those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever. (26)
The Psalm today, resonates with the message of the Lord’s final coming. May we see and know. May we believe and praise God the Lord Almighty. Amen!
Second Reading: First John 3: 18-24
True Love in Action
Little children, let us love not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (18)
St. John today provides us a blueprint for our actions. This blueprint clearly lays down the specifics of how we are to conduct ourselves if we truly believe in God and his Son Christ Jesus. Our actions, that is our work and our accomplishments; ought to then speak of God’s love in us! We will be able to operate from a level of higher intimacy with God only when we submit ourselves to him. This reverent living comes only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord has bestowed upon us his Holy Spirit, who covered the waters from the beginning with him. (Gen1:2) The wind that hovered over the formless void of the earth, lives in us today! The Spirit instructs us in the truth and guides our steps. In John 15:14-17, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Truth and fulfilled this promise on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and on several other occasions to others, throughout the Acts of the Apostles! Do we doubt his presence in us?
All who obey his commandments abide in him and he abides in them. And by this, we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. (24)
The Spirit that he has given us, guides us to obey his commandments. What are his commandments? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40) If we are able to earnestly follow these two commandments, however challenging they may seem at times; we are assured of God’s comfort for us. For in walking on this path, we may find ourselves being condemned, either by others or many times by our own self! It is then, that God sends us his comforter like a miraculous shower on parched fields. May we see ourselves as God sees us and may we love ourselves enough to stop condemning ourselves!
In the tough times, we live in today, we are morally, spiritually, and mentally enriched by the Holy Spirit. We ought to rely on his supreme power to get us through these raging waters. Christ is in our boat, may we know the truth and act out of His love.
Gospel: John 15: 1-8
Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. (2)
It is quite a pruning that a true disciple must undertake in order to bear much fruit. One can be assured of God’s miraculous abundance in one’s life when one chooses to live as a true disciple. Yet his pruning arrives quite unannounced on most of the days. On those days too, God holds our arms to steady us, as he walks with us over those furious waves. We, in turn, need to keep our gaze fixed on him so that we do not falter. In our living out the faith we can be assured of the unseen ways God uses us to lead others! Only, we may not understand it right away but we must know that there is a great pruning in progress.
If you abide in me and my words abide in you ask for whatever you wish and it will be done for you. (7)
What great words of strength from God himself -that we could ask him for whatever we wish for and it will be done!! We do not realize the implication of those words yet! If we did, we would drop everything and lean only on his word. What a joy to be filled by the Lord himself. Imagine if we would dare to ask him to turn our dry stone water jars into wine-filled ones!! We would really receive the same. We abide in him when we keep his commandments. And when we abide in him we would ask and receive from him. In turn, then, we would bear much fruit and become his true disciples.
We could begin with reading his word daily, attending the Holy Eucharist as often as we can, (daily if possible) and devoting a special time for personal prayer, alone with the Lord. Also, the Holy Rosary and the 3 pm Divine Mercy Prayer work as our shield and strength in our darkest moments. We have been offered a disguised opportunity in this cloistered lifestyle today, to turn; in our own unique ways to the Lord. Shall we?
Prayer: Amidst the tumult around us, O Lord, may we know you in the silence of our hearts! May we hear your voice in the sanctuaries of our souls. May we remember that we are being pruned because you chose us! May we know you are closest to us as we live out Psalm 91 in our lives today. For we who dwell in the secret place of the highest shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty!
Thank you God! Thank you Mother Mary, Amen!