2018-04-29, 5th Easter B, The Mystical Body of Christ

Homily 04-29-18
5th Sunday Easter, Cycle B
Acts 9:26-31; Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32; 1 Jn 3:18-24; Jn 15:1-8

(Scriptures included after homily)

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Back in the early 30’s (that’s AD), there were NOT many powerful mechanical devices that Jesus could use as metaphors for His Divine Power.  There were no fancy electrical gadgets that He could use to show the Strength of our Unity – with Him, His Father, the Holy Spirit and with each other.

In His day, they had harnessed the powers of: wind for sea travel, oil for lamps to light up the darkness, oxen for farming, and even birds for sending and getting messages (if you remember the story of Noah and the dove).

And here we thought the internet was slow!

You see, everything back then, was pretty much based on nature. In the Gospels, we hear stories about grapevines, stories about fishing and sheep, about mustard seeds and wheat, about wells and water jars.  And of course, in that time-period, there were lots and lots of examples of poor, hungry and sick people who relied on nature for Life.

Now, the cool part of all of those stories, is that we can still understand them, 2000-years later, even though we may not be as familiar with sheep and farming, as we are with say, our smart phones.

And yet, if I gave you a metaphor about an old 8-Track, or an icebox, or a floppy disk, I would guess that many of you would have no idea what I was babbling about.

But there IS a more-modern analogy to the “Vine and Branches” allegory that Jesus used today, that most of us could understand, even if we’re not very tech-savvy.

Remember, Jesus said, ‘If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.’  Of course we know that Jesus is not a magic lamp, nor a genie, but His Words WILL guide us to do things that are more likely to benefit us, than to hurt us.

So, let’s think about electricity for a moment!

If I’m a good, old-fashioned light bulb, the best way for me to offer any kind of light is to be screwed into a lamp that’s plugged into an electric outlet.  Of course I realize that there are lots of other ways that we can get light today. But please stick with me on this for just a moment.

So we have a light bulb, a lamp and an electric outlet.

If, WE are the light bulb, suppose we consider JESUS to be the lamp.  We have to remain IN Him, if we ever want to give light.

And then, suppose that the outlet, the power, the electric source is GOD the FATHER.  Jesus is always plugged into the Father, and He is always waiting there, for us.

Finally, that FLOW of electricity is considered to be the HOLY SPIRIT, coming FROM God the Father, THROUGH Jesus, and INTO us.

You see, without any of those connections, we really are nothing more than a dark, dead, light bulb.  In Jesus’ Grapevine Allegory, He said that without Him, those disconnected branches would be thrown out and burned.  Not a very pretty picture!

But when we ARE connected to the vine, or to the power outlet, the “FRUIT” of our connection is our light, God’s light, for the world to see with.

Now, maybe instead of a Light Bulb, we can be a Vacuum Cleaner, or a Refrigerator, or a Drill, or a Sewing Machine, or even a Battery for our Smart Phone.  Without being “plugged in,” either constantly, or at least for a recharge, we’ll never be very useful – in service to anyone.  So it’s pretty important that IF we really want to succeed in whatever task we are designed for, we must be “plugged in” – to Jesus.  And we can expound on that allegory as far as our creative minds can imagine!

But I’d like to carry it just one little step further . . .

You see, our Light Bulb can actually be used to help our Vacuum Cleaner, so that she can see where she’s going.

And our Vacuum Cleaner can clear the dust from the cooling coils of our Refrigerator, to keep him running smoothly.

And our Refrigerator can make the ice, that cools the Drill Bit, that makes the buttonholes, for our Sewing Machine, to clothe all of those needy people.

And in the end, God’s Power is
multiplied a thousand times!

You see, when we are ALL “plugged-in,” as a Community, we ARE the Fruit of God’s handiwork.  We are, TOGETHER, that Mystical Body of Christ, His Church!

And yet, IF we don’t remain In-Him and together, we can find ourselves in some pretty messy situations, just like Saul.

Saul was SO super-charged after his conversion experience.  The flash of light, the blinding darkness, the ominous voice and the miraculous healing: that he was ready to independently, conquer the world with his new-found wisdom.

But it didn’t take very long for Saul to find out, that the world didn’t really want to hear anything he had to say!  Even his new-found brothers in the Faith, the Apostles, wanted nothing to do with him!  And who could blame them after his vehement persecution of them.

And it never would have worked at all for Saul, had it not been for the Recharge Support of his friend, Barnabas.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t very long before Saul’s hyper-belligerent attitude almost got him killed a second time; as now, the disciples, his new Support-Community, quickly got him out of harm’s way, and also out of their own hair.

You know, sometimes,
even a Powerful, Muscle Car
can use a Muffler, and a Friend.

Well it took a little time and a little pruning, but Saul (turned Paul), finally found his perfect Gift, as a prolific Writer.  And even today, we still rely on Paul’s Letters for guidance in our Faith.

Then, mixed in with it all, of course, is God’s incredible Love for every one of us: the loud and the quiet; the hot and the cold; the fast and the slow.  He’ll give us all the time we need to find that Connection.  And you know what, that Connection might, just be sitting right next to us.

As we recharge our spirits with the Body and Blood, the Soul and Divinity of Jesus, we might ask ourselves today, if this awesome and connected Power of God is truly Electrifying our lives, as we share His Joy: in our Workplaces, in our Community, and even in our Families?”

Are WE really,
the Light of the world?

It all starts right here, as Jesus says,
“Remain in me!”

 jmp 04-29-18

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 04-29-18
Fifth Sunday of Easter, B

First Reading:  Acts 9:26-31

When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.

Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he reported to them how he had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.

He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem, and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.  He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists, but they tried to kill him. And when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to Tarsus.

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

R.  I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

I will fulfill my vows before those who fear the LORD. The lowly shall eat their fill; they who seek the LORD shall praise him: “May your hearts live forever!”

R.  I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; all the families of the nations shall bow down before him.

R.  I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

To him alone shall bow down all who sleep in the earth; before him shall bend all who go down into the dust.

R.  I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

And to him my soul shall live; my descendants shall serve him. Let the coming generation be told of the LORD that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice he has shown.

R.  I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

Second Reading:  1 Jn 3:18-24

Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. 

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.

Gospel: Jn 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 every one 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.”

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