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5th Sunday of Easter B


Fifth Sunday of Easter

One of the keys to understanding the message of the gospel is to pay attention to words often repeated. In today’s gospel, about the vine and the branches, the phrase “bear fruit” is repeated five times.  There must be some emphasis then in the mind and heart of Jesus about his disciples’ future performance of their responsibility in the church, in the society and in the world.

We wonder how as human beings, living in very challenging situations of today, we can bear fruit.  We are amazed at the achievements of the people we see in the highlights of television and newspapers and think that following them we might perhaps bear fruit.

Do we bear fruit when we bag the headlines after winning an athletic feat like the powerful Manny Pacquiao, that great Filipino boxer? He is surely the most illustrious native of our country today.  Do we bear fruit when we advertise in the media our concern for the poor of the country as local politicians are already doing by promoting themselves? While praising themselves, they condition the minds of people to include them in the ballots next year. Do we bear fruit when we successfully conquer foreign audiences with our talents like the petite but compelling singer Charice Pempengco who is a rising star promoted by the most influential American tv hosts? Her life story is certainly an inspiring one.

While I was thinking about the challenge to bear fruit, I was struck by a blessing I pronounced on a couple whose wedding I officiated recently. At the end of the Mass, the prayer simply hinted that for them to bear fruit they must remain in love with each other. It was so simple but it was also very enlightening.  We need to remember the connection between bearing fruit and loving. In that wedding, I saw the concreteness of love and fruitfulness of life.

It is not when we attain stardom that we bear fruit. It is not when we amass wealth and achievements that we start to matter in society.  It is not when we gather success after success that finally we make a difference in the world. It is when we love, yes, when we are connected to the Vine, Jesus, that as branches, we bear fruit.  Jesus is the vine and from him flows true and perfect love. If we remain in him and his words enter our hearts, then his love also influences our lives.  Bearing fruit is not about becoming great in the eyes of the world.  Rather, it is about becoming faithful to the invitation to serve.

You bear fruit when you continue to care for your sickly mother in spite of her inability to reciprocate your tenderness.  You bear fruit when you strive to keep your marriage intact no matter what pain this will entail.  You bear fruit when you exchange your dreams of fame and fortune in order to continue your passion of serving and loving those who are left behind by society.  You bear fruit when you do your work silently and without fanfare because you know you are offering all these for the glory of the Lord.

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  He calls us to remain attached to the vine through many actions and intentions of love that we are indeed capable of doing.  Let us stay connected to the Lord and bear fruit!