Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
May 10 A..D. 2009
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32
1 John 3:18-24
A reflection on today's Scripture:
One of the most popular programs on EWTN is "The Journey Home," hosted by Marcus Grodi.
Every week, former Protestant ministers tell their story of conversion to the Catholic Church. Time after time, their conversion follows a study of the history of the Church, and the writings of the early Fathers of the Church.
The first great conversion story is told in this week's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Saul of Tarsus, a learned Jewish scholar, is miraculously converted from persecutor to ardent follower of Christ. No one could have predicted the startling accident that befell Saul on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus. He was knocked off his horse, and struck blind by a divine shaft of light that left him totally helpless. He was directed by a Voice to seek out one Ananias who would give him further directions. The rest is history.
After some time in prayer and solitude, Barnabas, a man respected and trusted by the Christians, brought him to Jerusalem and introduced him to Peter and the other leaders. Overcoming their fears and suspicions, the apostles accepted him as one of their fellowship. Saul (now Paul) became the great Apostle to the Gentile world.
It was surely a miracle of grace that often-bitter fighting between various factions did not split the Church apart and destroy it. Furthermore, many were sorely tested when friends and relatives opposed them or even betrayed them to the authorities. What saved the whole enterprise was the wisdom and grace of the Holy Spirit, enabling divine love to conquer jealousy. In today's second reading, John directs his followers to "love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth." We must not merely give lip service to the truths taught by Jesus, but act on them every day of our lives.
The Gospel today is taken from the great farewell address of Jesus at the Last Supper in which Jesus pleads for unity among His disciples. He says, "I am the vine; you are the branches." Think about it! As a branch cannot survive if it is separated from the vine, neither can we survive if we sever our connection with Jesus. He is constantly strengthening us with grace, just as a vine never interrupts the flow of vital sap to its branches.
Sometimes we take all the credit for our growth. We even try to control the directions in which we share that life with the Church. We like to pick our own ministries, rather than allow the Lord to have a say in the decision. Then, when our activities are "pruned" through failure, illness, or other disappointments, we complain or become bitter.
At those times, we need to be more trusting, and realize that perhaps God's Providence has broader plans for our growth and the growth of His kingdom. Without pruning, a vine may look flourishing and healthy, but it will produce much less fruit. Likewise, if we are to be fruitful members of Christ, we must sacrifice our own plans and projects for what the Lord has in mind.
After all, Christ is the Vine, and we are the branches!
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
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Sunday, May 10, 2009
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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