Notice the outcome of a disciple’s fruitful life: “Ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become My disciples.” When we engage in the work Jesus left us to do—to spread the Gospel and to be perfected in love—our prayers will be answered. The answers, whenever and however they come, will show forth God’s glory. This is the unshakeable confidence we should have when we let what Jesus says sink in: “Whoever remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit.”
What kind of fruit can we expect to bear? Listen to what the Church says:
“For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit – indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born – all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives.” (CCC 901)
In other words, when we remain in the Vine, the whole world can be sanctified through us. What a beautiful harvest!
Possible response: Heavenly Father, I thank You that You have planted a fruitful Vine in this starving world. I offer today for Your harvest.
First Reading (Read Acts 9:26-31)
Here we have an account of Saul, the fire-breathing persecutor of Christians, after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Just as the apostles’ lives had been changed (“pruned”) by their encounter with Jesus, Saul was a new man after his conversion. He immediately began preaching the Gospel in Damascus; later he visited Jerusalem. At first, of course, the disciples were wary of him. Was he secretly trying to infiltrate their community by pretending to be a believer? Barnabas, however, one of the leaders in the Church, “took charge of him and brought him to the apostles.” Their acceptance of him and his testimony meant that the Christians no longer feared him. Saul even took on the Hellenist Jews in debate—the very group he had himself encouraged as they stoned Stephen, the Church’s first martyr (see Acts 7:58-8:1). They wanted to kill Saul, too! Then his Christian “brothers” (now so different from their earlier terror) sent him away from danger to Tarsus, his hometown.
In this episode, Saul becomes an example of what Jesus describes in our Gospel reading; His encounter with a man is what changes him. Whereas once Saul was a “branch” without fruit in Israel, his encounter with Jesus put new life into him—Jesus’ own life. We can see that in the fact that the Hellenist Jews wanted to kill him. The life of Saul’s Master had become his own life, too.
Finally, St. Luke describes the quiet growth of the early church in “all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria.” It was “being built up” by the Holy Spirit. It was not a human organization, guided and empowered by the will of man. The life of Jesus, made present by “the consolation of the Holy Spirit,” increased its numbers. It “walked in the fear of the Lord,” just as Jesus had lived His whole life. Truly this was the fruit of which Jesus spoke in the Gospel: “By this is My Father glorified.”
Possible response: Lord Jesus, when I see the change in Saul because of You, I know there’s hope for the changes I need in my life, too.
Psalm (Read Ps 22:26-28, 30-32)
This is the psalm Jesus had in mind while He was dying on the Cross. How do we k now? Read its first line (not included in today’s reading): “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” This was Jesus’ cry of agony when He shouldered the sin of all human history to make atonement for us. Why was He thinking of this particular psalm?