Fifth Sunday of EasterB
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Fifth Sunday of EasterB

Fifth Sunday of EasterB

Readings: Acts 9:26-31; I Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8.

 

1/ First Reading: NAB Acts 9:26 When he arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how on the way he had seen the Lord and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem, and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists, but they tried to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus. 31 The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

 

2/ Second Reading: NAB 1 John 3:18 Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. 19 (Now) this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him 20 in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. 21 Beloved, if (our) hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God 22 and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. 24 Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us.

 

3/ Gospel: NAB John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. 2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. 3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. 4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.



I. THEME: Unity in God and in the Church

            Though people have many differences with each other such as: faith, culture, vocation, education, position and temperament, but they are called to live together and to unify. How can people unify with each other amidst of these differences?

            Today readings offer us the principles to reach the unity. In the first reading, Paul was suspected by many because of his persecution of the christians background. Barnabas didn’t pay attention to Paul’s past but only to his present eagerness, courageously protected and introduced him to the apostles. After that, the apostles wisely let Paul to leave Jerusalem to avoid conflict with the Greeks. In the second reading, St. John emphasized on the commanment of love as the foundation for unity. He advised the faithful not only to love in their words but also in their deeds and keeping commandments. In the Gospel, Jesus used a concrete image to express the intimate relationship between him and his disciples: “I am the vine and you are the branches.” In order to bear fruits, Jesus’ disciples must be unified with the vine; if not, they shall be dried up and cut away. Jesus is the center of unity; he unified everyone to him and to others.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

 

1/ Reading I: Let give each other an opportunity. Don’t confine others in their past.

           

1.1/ Barnabas defended Saul:The author of the Acts reported: "When he arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how on the way he had seen the Lord and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.''

            Suspicion is normal for all people because they can’t see other’s mind and heart; moreover, the Jerusalem church had a reason to suspect Saul because he was their ardent persecutor not too long ago. When the Sandherin stoned deacon Stephen to death, they let his cloths at Saul’s feet. Ananias also suspected Saul until Christ revealed to him that he wanted to use Saul to preach the gospel. Unlike most people, Barnabas defended Saul before the apostles.

            When we see a sign of repentance, we need to generously forgive and to let others rebuild their life. If Jesus and the apostles didn’t give Saul an opportunity to rebuild his life, the Church shall not have an ardent apostle who eagerly preached and witnessed for the gospel as St. Paul! If Christ gave Saul and everyone opportunities to repent, who are we that dare to confine others in their past?

           

1.2/ The Church knew how to solve the conflict: The Acts continued to report: “He 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.And when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus.”

            The early Church, also the Church throughout generations, and even now is still the Church of human beings; therefore, she can’t avoid conflicts due to differences about culture, custom, politic and education. How can the Church solve conflicts to protect the unity? First of all, every member of the Church needs to pray for the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and guidance. Then, all need to contribute their opinions and to solve conflicts in love. For examples, in the conflict between the widows, the Church solved the conflict by the selection and the ordination of seven deacons. In today passage, the Church solved the conflict by “took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus.”

            By solving the conflict according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and in love, “the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”

 

2/ Reading II: The faithful must sincerely love others in deed and truth.

           

2.1/ The importance of the commandment of love:

            (1) Love must be expressed in deed and truth: The author wrote: “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.Now, this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before himin whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.” Love is so easy to express in word because everyone can easily say it. How can one recognize if it is the real love? To the author, it must have two conditions: in deed and in truth. First, love must be expressed in deed because the loved can only recognize love in action. Secondly, love must be in truth because not every love is true love, but only the one according to nature and reason. According to John, love and truth can’t be separated: “Whoever says, "I know him," but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn 2:4).

            (2) God is greater than our hearts and knows everything: St. John continued: "in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.Beloved, if (our) hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God.”

            These two verses are difficult to understand and there are two ways to understand them. First, if our hearts condemn us; God is greater than our hearts because He knows everything. This means that our sins can’t be avoided of God’s anger and punishment. Secondly, if our hearts condemn us; God is greater than our hearts because God knows not only our sins but also our love, desire, weakness and sickness, past and future; therefore, He understands and is ready to forgive us. Thomas à Kempis analyzed the difference between God and man as follows: “Man see results, God knows intention.” For example, though king David couldn’t build a house for God in deed, but he built a house for God in desire (1 Kgs 8:17-18). The French has an adage: “tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner.” If there is love in our heart, we can be confident to approach God.

           

2.2/ To love God is to keep His commandments: St. John continued: “And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us.”

            In all of Johannite Writings, faith in Christ and love are his two main subjects. People must believe in Christ to inherit the eternal life, and love each other to become his disciples. Keeping God’s commandments is basically to practice the commandment of love, or more specifically, “to love God and others.” When we keep His commandments, two things are guaranteed for us:

            (1) We will receive from him whatever we ask because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

            (2) We will remain in him, and he in us, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us.

 

3/ Gospel: People must unify with God and the Church as branches to the vine.

           

3.1/ Jesus is the vine and we are the branches: It is hard to find any image that describes an intimate and necessary relationship than the image of the vine and its branches. Jesus skillfully described: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.”

            God is the vine grower. This is a job that requires many cares and efforts; the vine grower must prepare the ground, fertilize, water and prune it. The new vine isn’t permit to bear fruits in three years. The purpose is to let the vine gather its strength so that when it bears fruits, it shall give good and sweet grapes. Similarly in the spiritual life, God prepares everything for men. He gave people the most precious vine which is His Only Son. He also gives people opportunities to listen to Christ’s words, and the Holy Spirit to help people to understand them and to believe in Christ.

            The vine can also be understood as the Church, and the faithful as the branches. According to Pauline theology, he saw Christ as the head, the Church as his body, and the faithful as members of the body.

           

3.2/ There are three kinds of branches in today passage:

            (1) The branches which remain with the vine and bear fruits: Jesus said to his disciples: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

            (2)The branches which remain with the vine and don’t bear fruits: The vine grower will cut them away so that they shall not waste the vine’s power. This is necessary for other good branches to bear more fruits. These kinds of branches can be compared with three kinds of people: First, those who refuse to listen to God’s words. Secondly, those who listen but don’t practice them. Lastly, those who don’t witness for God in time of persecution.

            (3) The branches don’t remain with the vine: Jesus said, "Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned." The vine’s dried branches can’t be used for cooking because they are so soft; they can be used only for starting a fire. Those who have not Christ’s words also quickly disappear as such.

           

3.3/ This is the image of the sacrament of the Eucharist: Jesus said: "Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me." We can remain in Christ through prayer, listening and practicing his words; but the special way that we can remain in him is through the sacrament of the Eucharist. By this sacrament, he gives us the divine life and all the necessary graces as the vine’s nourishment so we can bear fruits as good works and have strength to overcome all obstacles of our life. A family or a community who frequently receive the Eucharist shall easily be unified with each other because they are unified with Christ. The one who refuse do so, shall gradually be separated from his family, community and the Church.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE

                    

            - To achieve unity, we need to have Christ as the center through his words and the sacrament of the Eucharist. Besides, we must also have love and forgiveness.

            - When we have a conflict, we need to pray and to solve it together. Separation from our community is never a good way because a branch can only bear fruits if it remains in the vine.

            - We need to defend the weak and sinners as God defends and helps us; confining them in their past isn’t a good way to help them to repent.

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