(Fifth Sunday of Easter: Acts 9:26-31; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)
After Saul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he remained blind, and had to be led by hand into the city. The Lord sent a certain Ananias to pray over him and restore his sight. Ananias objected, “I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones;” but Jesus answered, “I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
In our first reading we see what Jesus meant. Saul is at first shunned by the Christians of Jerusalem; and even once he is accepted by them, the former persecutor is himself persecuted and must flee.
Saul, later known as Paul, would go on to produce abundant fruits of grace. But, as a new branch on the vine of Christ, he had to be pruned. Ouch! that hurts!
No one can be said to enjoy this part of discipleship, but it is inescapable. In the message of Our Lady of La Salette, her first words after calling the children to her, are, “If my people refuse to submit…” Submit? Ouch! No, thank you.
But when St. John tells us to love in deed and in truth, isn’t he saying fundamentally the same thing? It is easy to utter loving words, but putting love into practice puts serious demands on us. We are to love one another as Jesus commanded us.
Jesus presents the same thought in a very different way: “Remain in me as I remain in you... Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither...thrown into a fire.” Ouch!
It was clear to Our Lady that her people had not remained in her Son. Like any mother who sees her children not living in harmony, she was pained by the situation, and decided to do something about it, to ease their suffering
In the message of our heavenly Queen, there is much that can cause us pain and remorse. It is meant to be medicinal, its goal is healing.
We are in the Easter season, but did you notice that our responsorial Psalm is the same one as on Palm Sunday? Today we have the joyful conclusion of that Psalm, such a contrast to its opening cry of despair. Another Psalm puts it more concisely: “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.”