FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B
Acts 9:26-31, 1 Jn 3:18-24, Jn 15:1-8
By Fr. Euly Belizar, Jr.
Counselor to a group of husbands: “How close are you to your wives?”
Husband 1: “We’re like hand in glove.”
Husband 2: “We’re like the shore and the waves.”
Husband 3: “We’re like fire and wood.”
Husband 4: “We’re like store owners on vacation.”
Counselor to Husband 4: “That’s not close, Sir. That’s closed.”
This Sunday reminds us that there is someone infinitely more intimate with us by reason of our baptism.
First, he is one with the Father. Then he shares with us this union with the Father; we become beneficiaries of his generosity. In his own words, Jesus the Son is “the true vine” and we are “the branches”.
How does this happen, we ask. As pointed out, this happens first through Baptism and the other sacraments in which we receive Jesus. Then it also is through his Word that we hear in the Eucharist and through his living Body that we receive in Communion.
But the Acts also tells us from St Paul’s experience that we are one with Jesus when we unite ourselves with the apostolic community. Which is why we also say the Catholic Church is apostolic, first, because we as Church adhere to the teachings of the apostles, and, second, adopt their way of seeing and living life which are closest to Jesus’ own.
After Super Typhoons Yolanda and Ruby I saw so many branches from trees scattered everywhere. Just a few hours after being cut off their home trees they were wilting and dying. This is the picture Jesus draws in our minds about what sin and worldly living do to us. They separate us from him, the true source of life and joy. They make us fruitless in Christian love expressed through service. We need to learn from the saints. St Francis of Assisi simply imitated the poverty of Jesus. But his abiding union with him in prayer and, as St John in the second reading tells us, in “keeping his commandments” especially his commandment of love, has made St Francis so fruitful even a present pope imitates his imitation of Jesus. It is small wonder because the Master himself says, “He who lives in me and I in him will produce abundantly, for without me you can do nothing”. Mama Mary and the saints were always with Jesus; no wonder the fruits of their lives and intercessions abound. Multitudes can attest to so many answered prayers through their help. It is no surprise.
There is no defeat when we are with Jesus; when we are without him, there is no victory.