Thứ Ba, 16 tháng 5, 2017

MAY 17, 2017 : WEDNESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 287

Reading 1ACTS 15:1-6
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
"Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved."
Because there arose no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them,
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others
should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters
about this question. 
They were sent on their journey by the Church,
and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria
telling of the conversion of the Gentiles,
and brought great joy to all the brethren.
When they arrived in Jerusalem,
they were welcomed by the Church,
as well as by the Apostles and the presbyters,
and they reported what God had done with them.
But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers
stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them
and direct them to observe the Mosaic law."

The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter. 

Responsorial PsalmPS 122:1-2, 3-4AB, 4CD-5
R. (see 1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
"We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 15:4A, 5B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples:
"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.
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.
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.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."


Meditation: "Abide in me, and I in you"
Why does Jesus speak of himself as the true vine? The image of the vine was a rich one for the Jews since the land of Israel was covered with numerous vineyards. It had religious connotations to it as well. Isaiah spoke of the house of Israel as "the vineyard of the Lord"(Isaiah 5:7). Jeremiah said that God had planted Israel "as his choice vine" (Jeremiah 2:21). While the vine became a symbol of Israel as a nation, it also was used in the Scriptures as a sign of degeneration - a deformed state of spiritual growth and moral decline. Isaiah's prophecy spoke of Israel as a vineyard which "yielded wild grapes" (see Isaiah 5:1-7). Jeremiah said that Israel had become a "degenerate and wild vine" (Jeremiah 2:21). 
One must be firmly rooted in the "Tree of Life"
When Jesus calls himself the true vine he makes clear that no one can grow in spiritual fruitfulness and moral goodness unless they are rooted in God and in his life-giving word. Religious affiliation or association with spiritually minded people is not sufficient by itself - one must be firmly rooted in the "Tree of Life" (Revelation 22:1-2, Genesis 2:8-9) who is the eternal Father and his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus makes a claim which only God can make - he is the true source of life that sustains us and makes us fruitful in living the abundant life which God has for us. It is only through Jesus Christ that one can be fully grafted into the true "vineyard of the Lord".
Bearing the fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy
Jesus offers true life - the abundant life which comes from God and which results in great fruitfulness. How does the vine become fruitful? The vine dresser must carefully prune the vine before it can bear good fruit. Vines characteristically have two kinds of branches - those which bear fruit and those which don't. The non-bearing branches must be carefully pruned back in order for the vine to conserve its strength for bearing good fruit. Jesus used this image to describe the kind of life he produces in those who are united with him - the fruit of "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). Jesus says there can be no fruit in our lives apart from him. The fruit he speaks of here is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).
There is a simple truth here: We are either fruit-bearing or non-fruit-bearing. There is no in-between. But the bearing of healthy fruit requires drastic pruning. The Lord promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in him and allow him to purify us. Do you trust in the Lord's healing and transforming power to give you the abundant life and fruit of his heavenly kingdom?
"Lord Jesus, may I be one with you in all that I say and do. Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as my All."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersCleansed by Jesus' word, by Basil the Great, 329-379 A.D.
"So the world - life enslaved by carnal passions - can no more receive the grace of the Spirit than a weak eye can look at the light of a sunbeam. First the Lord cleansed his disciples' lives through his teaching, and then he gave them the ability to both see and contemplate the Spirit. He says, 'You are already made clean by the word I have spoken to you' (John 15:3). Therefore 'the world cannot receive him, because it neither sees him nor knows him... You know him, for he dwells with you' (John 14:17). Isaiah says, 'He who settled the earth and the things in it; and gives breath to the people on it, and Spirit to them that tread on it' (Isaiah 42:5). From this we can learn that those who trample earthly things and rise above them become worthy to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (excerpt from ON THE HOLY SPIRIT 22.53)

WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, JOHN 15:1-8
Easter Weekday

(Acts 15:1-6; Psalm 122)

KEY VERSE: "I am the vine, you are the branches" (v.5).
TO KNOW: Isaiah used the metaphor of a vineyard to describe Israel's relationship with God, who was imaged as the vine grower (Is 5:1-7). Although Israel was tenderly nurtured by God, it failed to produce fruit. Jesus declared that he was the "true vine" that had been planted in his Father's vineyard. The life of the Father flowed through Jesus who in turn gave life to those who were united to him. Those who chose to separate themselves from him became like withered branches, which were only good for fuel for the fire. The good branches would be pruned so as to increase their yield. In union with Jesus, the Church would be the "new Israel" that glorified God when its members led fruitful lives.
TO LOVE: Do I produce good fruit in my life as a testimony to my union with Christ?
TO SERVE: Risen Lord, continue to nourish your Church to produce good fruit.

Wednesday 17 May 2017


Acts 15:1‑6. Psalms 121(122):1-5. John 15:1-8. 
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord — Psalms 121(122):1-5.
‘I am the vine.’
Ancient rules of ritual purity specified that no Jewish person could come into contact with unclean elements including blood. If they did they had to be ritually cleansed through water before they could offer sacrifices. Sacrifices were offered so that each person’s sin was redeemed before God. Ironically, the ascent to the ancient temple was covered in blood from sacrifices. As such the sacrifices erected a barrier to full relationship with the divine.
Ah, but the true vine needs company, desires it. Christ’s invitation is to an intimacy that will be shared by all brothers and sisters. Yet strangely boundaries are retained when hands clasp. Difference, instead of being destructive, defines what it means to be in relation. Doors become places to welcome strangers rather than to shut them out; blood becomes wine, pain celebration.

ST. PASCAL BAYLON

Pascal was born at Torre-Hermosa, in the Kingdom of Aragon, on May 24, 1540. He was born on the Feast of Pentecost, which in Spain is called "the Pasch of the Holy Ghost", which is why he received the name Pascal. He died at Villa Reale, May 15, 1592, on Whitsunday.
His parents, Martin Baylon and Elizabeth Jubera, were virtuous peasants. The child began very early to display signs of that surpassing devotion towards the Holy Eucharist, which forms the salient feature of his character.
From his seventh to his twenty-fourth year, he led the life of a shepherd, and during the whole of that period exercised a salutary influence upon his companions. He was then received as a lay brother amongst the Franciscan friars of the Alcantarine Reform. In the cloister, Paschal's life of contemplation and self-sacrifice fulfilled the promise of his early years.
His charity to the poor and afflicted, and his unfailing courtesy were remarkable. On one occasion, in the course of a journey through France, he triumphantly defended the dogma of the Real Presence against the blasphemies of a Calvinist preacher, and in consequence, narrowly escaped death at the hands of a Huguenot mob. Although poorly educated, his counsel was sought for by people of every station in life, and he was on terms of closest friendship with personages of eminent sanctity. Pascal was beatified in 1618, and canonized in 1690.
His cultus has flourished particularly in his native land and in Southern Italy, and it was widely diffused in Southern and Central America, through the Spanish Conquests.
In his Apostolic letter, Providentissimus Deus, Leo XIII declared St. Pascal the especial heavenly protector of all Eucharistic Congresses and Associations. His feast is kept on 17 May. The saint is usually depicted in adoration before a vision of the Host.


LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 15,1-8
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Easter Time

1) OPENING PRAYER
Lord our God, loving Father,
you have given us your Son Jesus Christ
as the true vine of life
and our source of strength.
Help us to live his life
as living branches attached to the vine,
and to bear plenty of fruit
of justice, goodness and love.
Let our union with him become visible
in our openness to one another
and in our unity as brothers and sisters,
that he may be visibly present among us
now and for ever.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 15,1-8
Jesus said to his disciples: "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 clean already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, as I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains 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 thrown away like a branch -- and withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and are burnt. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for whatever you please and you will get it. It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit and be my disciples.
3) REFLECTION
• Chapters 15 to 17 of the Gospel of John present to us the diverse teachings of Jesus which the Evangelist has put together and placed in the friendly and fraternal context of the last encounter of Jesus with his disciples:
Jn 15, 1-17: Reflections around the parable of the vine.
Jn 15, 18 to 16, 4a: Advice of how to behave if we are persecuted.
Jn 16, 4b-15: Promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Jn 16, 16-33: Reflections on the farewell and the return of Jesus.
Jn 17, 1-26: The Testament of Jesus in the form of a prayer.
• The Gospels of today and of tomorrow present part of the reflection of Jesus around the parable of the vine. To understand well all the significance of this parable, it is important to study well the words used by Jesus. And it is also important to observe closely a vine or any other plant to see how it grows and how it becomes united to the trunk and the branches, and how the fruit springs from the trunk and the branches.
• John 15, 1-2: Jesus presents the comparison of the vine. In the Old Testament the image of the vine indicated the People of Israel (Is 5, 1-2). The people were like a vine that God planted with great tenderness on the hills of Palestine (Ps 80, 9-12). But the vine does not correspond to that which God expected. Instead of producing good grapes it produces sour fruit which is good for nothing (Is 5, 3-4). Jesus is the new vine, the true vine. In one phrase alone he gives us the comparison. He says: “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.” Pruning is painful, but it is necessary. It purifies the vine, and thus it grows and bears more fruit.
• John 15, 3-6: Jesus explains and applies the parable. The disciples are already purified. They have already been pruned by the word that they heard from Jesus. Up until today, God does the pruning in us through his Word which comes to us from the Bible and from many other means. Jesus extends the parable and says: “I am the vine, you are the branches!” It is not a question of two different things: on one side the vine and on the other the branches. No! The vine does not exist without the branches. We are part of Jesus. Jesus is the whole. In order that a branch can produce fruit, it has to be united to the vine. It is only in this way that it can receive the sap. “Without me you can do nothing!” The branch that does not bear fruit will be cut down. It dries up and it is ready to be burnt. It is good for nothing, not even for wood!
• John 15, 7-8: Remain in my love. Our model is that which Jesus himself lives in his relationship with the Father. He says: “As the Father has loved me, I have loved you. Remain in my love!” He insists in saying that we must remain in him and that his words should remain in us. And he even says: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for whatever you please and you will get it!” Because what the Father wants the most is that we become disciples of Jesus and, thus, that we bear much fruit.
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• Which has been the different pruning or the difficult moments in my life which have helped me to grow? Which has been the pruning or the difficult moments that we have had in our community and which have helped us to grow?
• What keeps the life united and alive, capable of bearing fruit, is the sap which goes through it. Which is the sap which goes through our community and which keeps it alive, capable of bearing fruit?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
Sing a new song to Yahweh!
Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!
Sing to Yahweh, bless his name!
Proclaim his salvation day after day. (Ps 96,1-2)