6th Sunday of Easter
Q372: Today's gospel says that "All you ask the Father in my name he will give you" (Jn 15:16). Is this true?
Yes, this is true - but keep the sentence in context, or you risk turning it into a "prosperity gospel"! In the sentence immediately preceding the one quoted above, Jesus told his disciples that he chose them to "go forth and bear fruit." So in this context we are talking about mission work, about continuing the mission of Jesus. By virtue of (and empowered by) our Baptism and Confirmation, we are called to spread the Good News - to participate in the mission of Jesus Christ our Savior.
Jesus is promising that every gift you need for this mission will indeed be given to you. In fact, attempts at fulfilling our mission will fail if we do not first seek the help of the Lord. We are talking about spiritual gifts, gifts from the Holy Spirit, the gifts needed to build up the Body of Christ. So a request for a Cadillac or a Hummer would not fall under the umbrella of that mission-oriented promise of Jesus.
This insight also keeps us from giving in to fear, because we realize that we are not depending upon our own power and our own resources. Instead, we remain centered in and connected to the Vine (the reading immediately preceding today's gospel). Normally our mission is not to leave for some far-off continent to evangelize. Instead, our mission area is our neighborhood, workplace, and home. This is were we spread the Good News of the love and mercy of Christ, which he manifested fully by laying down his own life for our redemption!
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. For this reason the Church takes care not to neglect the mission she has received to see that all who can be baptized are `reborn of water and the Spirit' (CCC #1257). Whatever we ask for that aids in transforming us and others into the image of Jesus, will be given to us (CCC #2745).
Q528: Today Jesus talks about bearing “fruit that will remain” (John 15:9-17). How can fruit “remain” on a tree forever?
We must remember that Jesus is speaking in metaphors – expressing his intended meaning by using images. This makes it easier for his uneducated audience to understand the deeper meaning and significance of his teaching points.
“Bearing fruit” is an easy image. A healthy branch of a fruit tree will do what it is intended to do: i.e., produce good fruit by being attached to a healthy tree. Using this metaphor, Jesus is saying that a “healthy disciple” must DO what Jesus intends ALL good disciples to do – manifest good “fruit,” the results intended by Jesus that come from being “attached to” Jesus. The example is modeled by Jesus himself: he shared everything with his followers, and even willingly gave up his life for them – the deepest expression of love available to a human.
One of the fruits of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22-23). Fruits must be seen to be of any use; they are never “hidden” on a branch, otherwise no one would benefit from their purpose in life. The “fruit” that Jesus wants to be seen in the life of every one of his disciples is Love. In fact, Jesus commands his followers to manifest this love at all times, and that love is expressed in the way they care for one another within the community. Real love naturally reproduces itself, reaching out to anyone who wants to share in the “caring” that is being offered. This is our purpose in life: to love, by first knowing, loving and serving our Creator, which in itself will impel us to know, love and serve others. And that is how we “remain on the tree” of life forever!
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! The Holy Spirit makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the Eucharist, in order to bring us into communion with God, that we may “bear much fruit” (CCC #737). We are the “sacrament” of the Church’s mission; i.e., our love makes present the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity (CCC #738). Can the world “see” the evidence of your sacrament?
Love One Another as I Have Loved You
In last week's readings Jesus spoke of our need to abide with him like branches on a vine and he demanded that the branches bear fruit. This week Jesus speaks more directly of that fruit, the fruit of love. Not the feel good self-indulgent love that TV commercials push, but a selfless, self-giving love – the kind of love that God has shown for us, the kind of love that led Jesus to the cross for us. This kind of love doesn't come naturally or easily. We can get it only from Jesus who first loved us. We are called to recognize that love, to accept it and to share it. This is a love that is demanding and inconvenient. It may push us to our limits, revealing our weakness and our inability to love as he loves. So we pray, "Lord, I do not love as I should; make up for my lack of love.
God, our Father, in this great mystery of Easter you have made a new covenant of love with us; may this love which we profess with our lips be a reality in our lives. Help us to love each other as you have loved us.