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BRANCHES EVERYWHERE

Updated: May 2

SPIRITUAL COMMUNION FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER



In the gospel reading today, Jesus describes himself as the true vine for his disciples. The one tending the vine is the Father.


The plant is not decorative: its purpose is to produce fruit and for this to happen a certain amount of pruning has to take place. The instrument for this task is the Word which the disciples whom Jesus is addressing have accepted and are therefore already cleansed or pruned and in a fit condition to be productive. But, as with any growing plant, care has to be taken that this healthy state is maintained, so ‘remaining’ (or ‘abiding’) in Jesus is vital.


The image of the vine is especially appropriate, as it suggests the intimate flow of life from the trunk into the branches: if this communication is interrupted or impeded, the branch will wither and lose its reason for being part of the plant.


If the disciples remain in Jesus and his words remain in them, then the positive result is that whatever they ask, the Father will grant. This passage warns against any sense of complacency: the image of the living vine suggests more than a passive attitude towards Jesus, that being his disciple is proved by bearing much fruit, which will redound to the glory of the Father, another strong theme in the Fourth Gospel.


It is the word of Jesus which gives life to the disciple, and it is the mutual love of the disciples which will reveal them as disciples of Jesus, to the glory of the Father.

"The Sunday Message" - Redemptorist Press.



✠ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!


SAYING SORRY


Compassion and mercy belong to the Lord our God,

though we have rebelled against him.

Let us then renounce our wilfulness and ask his mercy by confessing our sins in penitence and faith.


Like Mary Magdalen at the empty tomb,

we fail to grasp the wonder of your presence. Lord, have mercy.


Like the disciples behind locked doors,

we are afraid to be seen as your followers. Christ, have mercy.


Like Thomas in the upper room,

we are slow to believe. Lord, have mercy.


Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon us,

✠ pardon and deliver us from all our sins,

confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



COLLECT


Almighty ever-living God,

constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,

that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism

may, under your protective care, bear much fruit

and come to the joys of life eternal.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



A READING FROM THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN (Chapter 15, verses 1-8)


Alleluia, alleluia!

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.

Whoever remains in me bears fruit in plenty.

Alleluia!


Jesus said to his disciples:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away,

and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more

You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you.

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.


As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine,

neither can you unless you remain in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches.

Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty;

for cut off from me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away –

he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt.


If you remain in me and my words remain in you,

you may ask what you will and you shall get it.

It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,

and then you will be my disciples.”


The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.



HOMILY - Cutting Back: The Gospel today has the familiar story about the vine and the branches. Jesus, vine, is rooted and stable, and will bring us all the nourishment we need. Maybe you would like to stop there and contemplate such a rich image. Do so if you would like. Because just beyond it there is the small matter of being pruned.


To prune a plant is to cut parts of it off.

Jesus mentions it twice in our reading:

Speaking as the vine, he says that the Father takes away

every branch in me that does not bear fruit,

and every one that does he prunes, so that it bears more fruit.


Ouch.


If we bring forth no fruit, we “will be thrown out like a branch and wither.”

If we bear some, we have to be pruned. We lose either way!

And it seems to be our fault:

If only I were a better person,

if only I had done the right thing,

if only the world were different,

if only I had been dealt a better hand in the game of life,

or, or, or.......


If I weren’t so full of guilt I wouldn’t have to be pruned.

It is all my fault! Well, no it's not.

We need to place ourselves at the disposal of the "Vine-dresser",

who understands how to encourage growth in what in us is strong,

and cut away what in us hinders growth.


Pruning encourages new growth and the overall health of the plant.

You and I need to be trimmed regularly.

Do we ever avail ourselves of sacramental pruning, penitence,

enabling growth as that which hinders it is discarded?

Trust the steadiness of Jesus’ gardener hand,

as he lovingly tends the plant that is you.


My job is not to be perfect, it is to remain in you, Christ,

and to let you do good within me and through me and us.

Father John Foley, SJ & PHNC.



I BELIEVE….


I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

He ascended into heaven,

He is seated at the right hand of the Father,

And he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

LET US PRAY


For the Church: that we may continually draw life from Christ and bear a rich harvest of virtues and Gospel-values for God’s glory.


For all who help others deepen their relationship with God: that parents, teachers, catechists and spiritual directors may continue to grow in their relationship with God so that they can support others to grow in Christ.


That God may help us to let go of those things which need to be pruned, so that God’s life and love may blossom in our lives.


For all who feel cut off from God, from family or friends; that God would enable them to connect with others from whom they can draw life.


For those entering retirement: that they may find new ways to use their gifts and share their learned wisdom with younger generations.


For Christians facing persecution: that God will give them strength, wisdom to overcome obstacles, and the grace to forgive their persecutors.


For all communities overwhelmed by the Covid virus, particularly in India: that God will slow the spread of the virus, give strength to all caregivers, and open opportunities for the distribution of vaccines.


For all who are ill: that Christ the source of all life will ease their pain, heal their illness, and restore them to their loved ones.


For all who are experiencing pruning through loss, transition, or change: that God would strengthen and guide them, and help them find courage and support through others. We remember those who have died: ✠ rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them, May they rest in peace, and rise in glory.


We ask Mary to pray with us, as we with her

bring to the Lord our world in need:


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,

blessed art thou among women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners now,

and at the hour of our death.


Be with us all, Lord:

in all our daily struggles as we seek to follow you.

Be with us all, Lord:

in our periods of doubt and despair;

and in our times of happiness, health and loving.

Be with us all, Lord:

until that time when in your Kingdom of Love

our joy will know no end:

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.



At the Saviour’s command

and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say:


Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.


Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,

graciously grant peace in our days,

that, by the help of your mercy,

we may be always free from sin

and safe from all distress,

as we await the blessed hope

and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.


For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours

now and for ever.


Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles:

Peace I leave you, my peace I give you,

look not on our sins,

but on the faith of your Church,

and graciously grant her peace and unity

in accordance with your will.

Who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.


Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

grant us peace.



Time to sit quietly to receive the Lord’s Presence spiritually.


Lord Jesus Christ, eternal Son of God;

I believe that You are truly present

in the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

I worship Your unseen sacramental presence

with all the powers of my soul.

I love You above all things,

and I earnestly desire to receive Your life-giving, healing grace.


Since I am not now about to receive You sacramentally in Holy Communion,

I ask You to come spiritually into my soul,

and to bestow on me all the graces which flow from Your Sacred Heart.


I unite myself to You, as fully as I am able,

and I ask that with the help of Your grace

I may remain united to You,

my greatest good, my final end.


I ask You to sustain me in this life with Your presence,

and then, when this life is over, to receive me into the joys of Your Kingdom,

where with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

You live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.




Eternal light shine in our hearts.

Eternal goodness deliver us from evil.

Eternal power be our support.

Eternal wisdom scatter the darkness of our ignorance.

Eternal pity have mercy on us;

that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength

we may seek Your face,

and be brought by Your infinite mercy

into Your holy presence.


THE REGINA COELI


Joy to thee, O Queen of Heaven! Alleluia.

He whom thou wast meet to bear, alleluia.

As he promised, hath arisen, alleluia.

Pour for us to him thy prayer, alleluia.

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.

For the Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!


O God, who through the resurrection

of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ didst vouchsafe to give joy to the world: grant, we beseech thee, that through His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord.



BLESSING ✠ May the Lord bless us and keep us;

May the Lord make his face shine on us and be gracious to us;

may the Lord smile upon us and give us peace, now and for ever. Amen.


Let us bless the Lord.

Thanks be to God.




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