Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,
On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, John 15:1-8, offers us an image of remaining connected the Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Easter hope is deep within us and our connection to Jesus’ resurrection remains from our baptism and the grace of the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls himself the true vine. We remain deeply connected to his life of mercy, love and forgiveness even when we feel cut off from such a gift. We remain connected to the source of life even though Jesus is not physically among us.
In this Easter season, we all see the beauty of new life within the Church. We welcome the new sprouts of life in our children and adults born again in baptism. We celebrate First Communion with our young people so that they can be connected and nourished on the vine of love throughout their lives. We are all inspired by our students allowing the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be given them in the sacrament of Confirmation. New life buds forth in our sacramental life in the Church in these Easter days.
Sometimes as we grew older, we feel less of springtime. From my pastoral experience, I am aware that many people do not feel connected to Jesus when life takes a turn. They site their misfortunes or their inabilities to live a suitable life in the eyes of the Church as examples of dying on the vine. They believe that their choices in life determine whether or not they belong in God. So many people put the blame on themselves that God could not possibly love them and that Jesus could not possibly be for them, since everyone tells them that they are cut off from the Christian family because of sin and doubt, selfishness and greed, and apathy and not feeling good enough to be loved in the first place.
However, we do not make the decisions about whether we belong or not to God. God is the decision maker. I suggest in this Easter season that we cling to the vine of God’s love for us and continue to search for the beauty and hope that rises up within us no matter what happens. Easter makes all things new in the spiritual life. Christ’s resurrection heals sin and division and helps us live in the tensions of life. Easter casts light and hope on our lives when we feel we have been stunted by our inabilities to thrive in prayer and in life.
My heart breaks for people who have given up on God and on themselves. In these Easter days, we need to listen again to this gospel, “ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” I want to live deeply connected in that message for all of us. Jesus, the vine, is our gladness, our joy, our way of life and our hope for tomorrow.
Easter blessings and deep peace,