Fifth Sunday of Easter Homily by Father Paul Wierichs, C.P.
When I saw these readings for this weekend I was extremely happy. I have used in the retreats that I run for young adults, teenagers and confirmation classes Scriptures from John 10:10 “I have come to give your life that you may have it abundantly” and then I jumped to John 15:5 “I am the vine you are the branches you will remain with me and I with you have eternal life”.
I have always wondered why so many of our good people have stopped going to church and maybe even have stopped believing in Jesus. Yes I know that the church itself has sometimes caused this number of the issues that have prompted people leaving the church and even believing in Jesus have things like:
· Sexual scandals of 2002
· God never hears my prayers
· Churches always asking for money
· The stupidity of priest and religious
· Alcohol and drug issues
· Presenting Jesus in a fearful scandalous way.
And many people today say, “why should I go to church? Why can I just worship God in my own way? Surely religion is about my personal relationship with God?
From the earliest times, following Jesus was never just a private, personal matter. Christians came together to live in community, to profess their faith in Jesus Christ, to witness to his resurrection, and live by his teachings. The profound reason for this is given to us by Christ himself, when he said, “I am vine, you are the branches.”
The vine and its branches are one. There is a mutual interdependence of branch and vine, and branch with branch. To say, “I will follow Jesus but not the church,” is to separate Jesus from the church, to cut off the branches from the vine.
We must remember, the first disciples of Jesus had seen him, eaten with him, and spoken with him after his resurrection. As a consequence they had a deep sense of connectedness with him, and connectedness from which they drew great strength. Jesus had chosen them. He had made them his friends, and sent them out to bear fruit, the fruit of love.
Unfortunately, somehow over centuries not just days, weeks or months I’m saying centuries we never showed our people how to have this connectedness. We never taught our people how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. If we had done it people would have come to realize very quickly that they could not be separated from the Jesus. The vine and the branches are connected they need each other.
As one of his followers to be united with him and with one another. In order for the church to be a true community producing the fruits of love we must be united to Christ realize as we deepen our spiritual life that separated from Jesus we can do nothing. However, united with Jesus we will bear much fruit. We form a strong bond with him and because of this bond we are in union with him and with each other.
When those trials come up in our life we must realize that God is leading us in order to bear more fruit.
I like to close with the reflection about St. Paul the apostle. Think about his life think about all the trials that he went through and think of also how much fruit he produced. We are no different than Paul God wants us to be with him he wants to uses us so that we can bring about the message of his kingdom his saving message.