Sunday, May 2nd 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
We have entered the Month of May and the year seems to be speeding along. Our readings from the Fifth Sunday of Easter teach us what it means to bear fruit as Jesus’ disciples. We hear in each of this Sunday’s readings that it is from the Lord that good effects will be produced in our lives. We will be known by and our reputation will depend upon “the fruits” we produce. The fruits that Jesus talked about how we as His disciples do good works that build up the Kingdom of God.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples preached the Good News and defended the faith. The work they did was “with the consolation of the Holy Spirit and it grew in numbers” (Acts 9:31). It was not their work alone, but the work of God through them. Their efforts produced great fruit and the Church was being “built up and they walked in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31).
We must ask ourselves, ‘how is God bearing fruit in my life?’ and ‘have I invited the Holy Spirit to work in me?’ ‘Am I producing fruit for the Kingdom or am only concerned about my own individual benefit and welfare?’ The more we try to produce good effects in our lives, the more we will become disappointed if we rely only on is our own efforts. It is only in inviting the Holy Spirit into each moment of our lives that we will see goodness poured out or we see fruit produced.
Jesus clearly tells us how to do this in the Gospel. He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit” (John 15:5). We can remain in Christ by staying faithful to His commandments, frequently receiving the sacraments, attending Mass regularly, studying the Scriptures, reading books that build up our Catholic faith and a regular regime of daily prayer. And our day-to-day moments should reflect these daily commitments to spiritual growth and discipleship.
That could mean opening our day with a prayer of personally dedication of the day to the Lord, to frequent prayers of thanksgiving, smiling at those we see on the street, asking God for help as we begin our workday, praising God in moments of trial, taking time to listen to our spouse or family member after a long day, and praying for those in need we encounter. To remain in Christ means in all that we do, we do it with the Lord.
When we live the discipleship way of life — as a branch never separated from its vine — God will produce bountiful fruit in our lives. If we are open and willing to be an instrument of God’s love and mercy in the world, he will use us to bring his presence into the hearts and minds of all we encounter. The good works we do for the Lord will produce much fruit.