3 May – Fifth Sunday of Easter
When Saul got to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they could not believe he was really a disciple. Barnabas, however, took charge of him, introduced him to the apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to Saul and spoken to him on his journey, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Saul now started to go round with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. But after he had spoken to the Hellenists, and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. When the brothers knew, they took him to Caesarea, and sent him off from there to Tarsus.
The churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.
1 John 3:18-24
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence,
and whatever we ask him,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.
‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’
Do what pleases Him
At some point in our lives, each of us aspires to live a life pleasing to God. Today is the best time to reflect on why we choose to do so and to seriously take stock on the times we turned our backs on God and did as we pleased or to please others.
It is so common for us to give and receive advice that “we should listen to our hearts and not our minds”. In today’s reading we are told that God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything. Hence will it not be more befitting for us to listen to God rather than our hearts? Because the fruit of listening to Him and following His commandments is that we remain in Him. Take a moment today to think about what it would be like to remain in Jesus.
I always feel that when I choose to focus on my love for God, it is the easier part of the bargain compared to loving my neighbours, which is a different ball game all together. During the recent Lenten season, I was hurt by how my loved ones were treated and despite the hurts I felt, God was seeing me through this difficult time. As I was reflecting on a particularly trying day, I was reminded of the similarity of my experience with that of Mother Mary when she witnessed the torture, humiliation, pain and death of her beloved Son. It gave me great consolation to know that our Blessed Mother had set an example for each of us to follow. So that each time we feel helpless because we cannot love our persecutors unconditionally; each time we are hurting and angry, we know that as Christians, we are called to forgive — all the time and every time. In today’s reading, St John tells us that if our hearts are not condemned, they remain in Him and we receive everything we ask for. Could it be that in our condemnation, we are simply overwhelmed by our feelings, and simply led astray by circumstances?
We pray only when we feel like it, we ‘fall in love’ momentarily despite the promise of our marital vows, we show compassion, love and kindness depending on our moods. Are our hearts so condemned that we sometimes act in this manner?
But there is always the Hope in the risen Lord, who renews our ways so that we can live in the truth. And because loving others is not the easiest thing to do, let us also encourage others; especially those who trespass against us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Father God, help us to live a life pleasing to you. Forgive us for the times we have fallen short of loving you and our neighbour. Mother Mary, pray for us.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for giving us people who love in deed and truth.