Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection April 28, 2024


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R/. You are my praise, Lord, in the great assembly.

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. Abide in me, and I in you, says the Lord; whoever abides in me bears much fruit..

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

1. I am the Vine, you are the branches. Abide in me”, Jesus convincingly announces in the gospel. In the first place, the very imagery itself implies the inseparable union between the Lord and his disciples. For, apart from the Vine, the branches cannot live, cannot grow, cannot bear fruit. A branch that is not connected with the Vine, withers and is burnt off. 

2. In the same way, a Christian should be close to Jesus and united with him, for life, for growth and for fruition. The same idea of union and blossoming is also strong and clear in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The terms used are similar: “the early church had peace, was being built up”; there was fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit”.

3. At this point, it is very clear, why today many seem lifeless, without any brightness and vigour of life, even though they have at their disposal all that the world can offer. Many seem stifled and stunted in their growth, even though they have ample opportunities and talents of knowledge and competence. Many seem fruitless, joyless and meaningless, even though they ride on all glory, success and fulfillment, in the sight of the world. It is only because their inner connectedness with God is disconnected.

4. How right are the words of the psalmist in psalm 127: if the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labour, if the Lord does not keep vigil, in vain do the guards keep vigil. The world of today, puffed up by its progress and technology, feels so self-sufficient, self-complacent and self-directed, and tries vehemently to do away with God. Hence so much sense of emptiness, suffocation and dissatisfaction.

5. However the branches that bear fruit, too will have to undergo the pain of “pruning”, so as to make them flourish faster. While being pruned, that is, going through moments of adversity and affliction, is certainly painful. But its result is very positive and rewarding. There is growth and abundant fruition. Therefore, our concern must not be so much on the pain of the pruning,  but on the fruit and consequences, the effect and result of such pruning. 

6. In fact the best way to prove to be true disciples and give fitting glory to God, is not so much by glorifying in words, or by convention or conventions or titles or traditions, but rather by bearing much fruit in a life of good actions and life witness. It is in this sense, the second reading from John’ s first letter also exhorts, not to limit our faith only to word and talk,  but live it in deed and truth. This is manifested in loving God, abiding in Him, keeping his commandments and loving one another.

7. What about our linking and inseparability with our main stem of the Vine? Are we close and attached to the Lord? Do we derive from the Vine our required nourishment and strength? The more we tend to be unconnected or disconnected, the more will we will be affected  and infected. Do we realize that certain pruning by way of suffering and difficulty is bound to happen? Do we accept it willingly and grow strong and well- regulated? Do we glorify God merely with words and certain ceremonies and practice? Or, we render the best glory to God, by living our discipleship and bearing abundant fruits?

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