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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, May 6, 2012

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

May 6, Fifth Sunday of Easter

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Acts 9:26-31

Psalm 22:26-28, 30-32

2) 1 John 3:18-24

Gospel: John 15:1-8

This time of year the good results of pruning become evident in a profusion of new growth in flowering trees and shrubs.

Witnessing such beauty and vitality in nature shows how the Gospel metaphor of pruning is so appropriate to Jesus' message. He promises new growth if we hold tight to God's life in us, even as we suffer injury and loss.

Jesus says he is the vine and the Father the vine grower who, while disposing of the dead wood, nurtures -- and renews -- the life force that has survived the pain. Our relationship to Jesus is similar: he is the vine, we the branches who receive life through him.

Just before Easter, I got a card from my friend Marie. She wrote it while on a retreat -- an annual retreat we attended together for many years. I moved away nearly 15 years ago, but her note recalled a spiritual bond we still have because of the times we shared being away with Jesus.

Since then, Marie has experienced some heavy setbacks including, most notably, the death of her son when he was in his early 20s. I can't imagine the darkness of her grief but remember my amazement at how she never seemed to waver in clinging to a deep force that was her relationship with Jesus.

That relationship has borne much fruit, seen in the vital, faith-filled lives of Marie's daughters, grandchildren and friends who have learned from her how to remain in Christ and draw strength from him.

In her card, Marie wrote, "As always, when I'm on retreat I think of you and I pray for you." Then she added that she hoped the Lord manifests himself to me every day in new ways, that I find in new places the peace we had on retreat and new people with whom to share our love for Jesus.

While recognizing the core of faith and love that God first planted in us and nurtured through our experience, Marie kept emphasizing newness.

Christ's life is resurrection. Marie shared her hope for things new because she understands the fundamental constancy of God who strengthens us through continual new life, offering salvation and willing us to bear fruit.

QUESTIONS:

What makes it most difficult for you to draw on Christ within you? When has an instance of suffering or injury led to new life for you?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"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" (John 15:2).

END



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