5th Sunday of Easter – 2018

East5B18.   Acts of the Apostles 9:26-31.    Barnabas brought Paul “to the apostles, and he reported how he had seen the Lord,” and how in Damascus Paul “had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.”  Paul cooperated with Jesus so that a true conversion was effected in him to the extent that, despite the threat of persecution, he spoke out publicly to convert others to Jesus.  The presence of Jesus bore fruit in him as it did in the building up of converts in Israel.

John 15:1-8.  “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.”  The power of Jesus flows through us so that we can be truly productive.  Whatever we try to do without Jesus is useless.  Since what we ourselves do is worthless, then we are useless, worthy to be thrown out in the fire like worthless branches and be burned.  To remain in the Lord means to draw our life from him. So deep should our life be in Jesus that it is no longer we who are at the center of personhood but he who lives in us.  We lose ourselves in our life with him yet still remain people who daily must renew our choice to live in him.  For each of us, I still am I but now I find myself living in the depths of a joy I had never known before because I remain in him and he remains in me.  In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” In 1 John 5:12, John writes, “Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.”

In Philippians 2:13, Paul writes, “For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.”  God and only God is the root of all goodness. It is God working through us who unite ourselves to him who truly works the genuine good.  Without uniting ourselves to him everything we do is worthless or bad.  The good we do in God gives glory to God.  Jesus says in John 14:13, “And whatever you ask in my name (i.e. in accord with his will and in Christ), I will do, so that the Father may be gloried in the Son.”

1 John 3:18-24.   I believe what John is addressing here is that some Christians needed to be reassured that they were truly living in Christ and not just diluting themselves.  “Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.”  His Spirit reassures us that he dwells within us because Jesus and his love is our way of life.  “And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.”