May 6, 2012 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
As Christian disciples, it is vital that we are intimately united to Christ. It is Him who we follow. It is His truth that we proclaim. So it only stands to reason that we can’t truly be His disciples without a personal relationship with Him. How can you follow someone you do not know? How can you boldly proclaim a truth about which you are not greatly familiar?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Remain in me as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. … Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
So, indeed, our lives as Christian disciples must be firmly rooted in Christ Jesus. We must wisely use the time He has blessed us with – spending time in prayer on a daily basis, reading the Scriptures, celebrating the sacraments and so on.
Then, armed with a strong prayer life and an intimate personal relationship with the Lord, we can go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel by loving one another “in deed and truth” – as the second reading for today charges us to do.
Most of us are keenly aware that committing to be Christ’s disciples, and, in turn, living the stewardship way of life involves selfless service to God and neighbor. In serving others selflessly, we share the good news of Christ’s boundless, selfless love for all of us. But before we can do that, we must come to know the Lord. This is why the time element of stewardship is so crucial. We cannot truly selflessly share of our talents and our treasure unless we are firmly rooted in the one who has selflessly given them to us first.
In today’s first reading, we hear about Saul (later known as Paul) who went about boldly proclaiming the Gospel. “And with the consolation of the Holy Spirit [the Church] grew in number.” Paul has made a huge impact on the Church at large. His witness and His preaching has brought many to Christ, and His incredible impact began with an intimate encounter with the Lord. On his way to Damascus, He encountered Christ and His life completely changed direction.
God is calling each one of us to do as He did – to proclaim the Gospel, by our words and by our deeds. The way in which we live should glorify the one who made us. All that we do – at home, at church, at work, and elsewhere – should bring glory to Christ. But before we can do that, we have to get to know Him. We have to be a prayerful people – offering God the first fruits of our time.