In today’s readings, we learn of the importance of representing Christ in the world as his branches. Evangelization is important!
The first reading tells of Saul who persecuted the Christians. After a vision of Christ, he converted and his name became Paul (Acts 9). Since Saul persecuted the Christians, the disciples were worried when he approached them asking to be part of their group. They felt he was just pretending in order to find out where Christians gathered in order to make arrests (Acts 8:3).
However, he sincerely did want to join the disciples and Barnabas took him in. Saul told them of how he had seen the Lord who spoke to Him. As a new Christian, Saul wasted no time and went after the Hellenists or the Greek philosophers of the time and debated with them. They did not like his arguments so they tried to kill him. (Sounds like me today with online atheists who are constantly targeting me after I refute their nonsense!) As a Church, we must spread the Gospel and praise the name of the Lord as the Psalm for today calls us to (Mark 16:15).
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Today’s responsorial Psalm calls us to be faithful to God and praise Him. We must call the whole world to remember the Lord and turn to Him (Acts 3:19). Like John the Baptist, we must be that “voice in the wilderness” calling the world to repentance and righteous living by reminding them that to God only should worship be given (Isaiah 40:3, John 1:23). This call to the world to repent must be made with love as we read in the second reading.
In the second reading, we read that we must love in deed and truth, not just by words. We must show our love for others, not talk about it (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). We who are in Christ belong to the truth because Christ is the truth (John 14:6). With this confidence in Christ Jesus, we must go out and evangelize, keep the commandments ourselves and be examples to those around us (Titus 2:7). Again, all of this must be done with love as Christ commanded (John 13:34-35). We are part of the Church, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27, Romans 12:5). Christ is the true vine and we are the branches as we read in the Gospel.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that he is the true vine, the Father is the vine grower and we are the branches. Every branch that does not produce fruit, the Father will throw away in the furnace (hell) (Revelation 21:8, Matthew 25:46). Those branches that do produce fruit, the Father will prune so that it bears even more fruit. Jesus reminds us that without the vine, the branches cannot produce fruit. If we do not remain in Christ, then we cannot bear fruit. It is in Christ that we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Again, the Church is the body of Christ. We must remain faithful to the Church in order to be truly incorporated in Christ. As branches, we must reach out around the world and spread the Gospel. The message of the Gospel works best when done with love as Christ commanded. May Jesus Christ be praised!