Let Us Show, Through Our Actions, That We Are True Christians
Fifth Sunday of Easter B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

In the Gospel Reading, Christ calls Himself the vine. The Church is the field of God where the grapevine grows and we are the branches. The Lord assures us that if we remain united to Him we will give abundant fruit. However, if one of the branches dries out because it is not receiving the life giving sap from the plant, in other words if it is not receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit that strengthens it, the winegrower, who is God, will cut it off and throw it into the flames. If we remain joined to Him, being fed by the word and by prayer, if we receive spiritual food in the Holy Eucharist, we will be strengthened and will give abundant fruit.

Surprisingly, the Lord also assures us that even though we give fruit, we will still most likely need to be pruned, so that we can give more fruit. We have probably already gone through this on many occasions. We have noticed that when we remain united to Him, He transforms us into different persons and we begin to give abundant fruit. Even so we have also gone through low points in life due to poor health, problems in the family or other reasons. These are trials from God that we go through as we are being pruned. He wants to test our spiritual strength to see how well His grace flows within us.

The People of Israel, the people that the Lord chose, are frequently compared in the Old Testament with the vineyard of God. During the first centuries after they had come to know God, they considered that their most important task was to live in accordance with His commandments. But, little by little, the religious authorities began to create many more, stricter, laws to follow. After a time, obeying the laws became more important than showing their love of God.

When Jesus Christ came to the world, He radically changed the image of the vine and the branches that the Hebrew people used to describe their relationship with God. Jesus shows us that the basis for the Ten Commandments is love of God and of our neighbor. He also shows us that even though we continue to have the obligation to obey God’s commandments, it is no longer necessary to follow the old laws of the Old Testament that were created by human beings. Christ, during his earthly life, made the Father known to us as “Our Father.” By His death, Jesus shows us the great love that He has for all of humanity.

Saint John, in the Second Reading, warns us not to show our love in words alone. He says that we should show, through actions and good works, our love of God and of our neighbor. If we obey the commandments and firmly believe in His Only Son, Jesus Christ, God will abide in us. Saint John asks us to love one another. If we follow Christ faithfully, we will not only say so in words we will also show with our actions that we are daughters and sons of God the Father. Christ has said that that is who we are. When we were baptized, we Christians acquired the right and the power to be part of the vine that is the Lord. And through faith, prayer in community, the liturgy, and the word, we encounter a new life that will help us to become more united to Christ and His Church.

Sisters and brothers, let us struggle energetically to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us be sure that if we are faithful in following Christ we will live a life surrounded by His love. Let us free ourselves of everything that keeps us from reaching a more perfect union with Him. Let us show, through our actions, that we are true Christians.